All MPs Should Support Haemophiliacs Last Gasp For the Truth

January 9, 2007 4:08 PM

Today, Jenny Willott, Welsh Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central highlighted the extent of HIV infection amongst haemophiliacs in the UK. Every MP in the UK is likely to have a constituent who was infected with HIV or Hepatitis C after using contaminated NHS blood products between 1979 and 1985.

She urged all MPs to support her Early Day Motion calling for an independent public inquiry to discover the full facts of the case.

Recent figures have revealed that out of over 4,865 haemophiliacs infected with Hepatitis C, 2,357 have died. Of the 1,200 who also contracted HIV, 839 have died. According to research by the Haemophilia Society, every MP is likely to have at least one constituent affected by this issue who is still alive.

Commenting, Jenny said:

"Since so many people were infected in the 1970s and 80s with HIV and Hepatitis C after being given contaminated NHS blood products, all MPs should be getting involved in this issue. They now have the opportunity to see to it that the full facts of how this happened come to light.

"Well over half of those who contracted HIV from contaminated NHS blood products have died and nearly half of have died who contracted Hepatitis C. The only mistake these people made was trusting that their Government would give them uncontaminated blood products from safe donors.

"Successive Governments have treated the haemophiliac community disgracefully by ignoring their calls for an independent public inquiry into this affair and leaving them to suffer with minimal support.

"Imported blood products in the late 70's and 80's carried a very high risk of being infected with HIV or Hepatitis C as they were often from high risk, paid donor groups such as convicted criminals, serving soldiers and anyone who desperately needed cash fast.

"The destruction of large numbers of key documents relating to this case held by the Department of Health in the 1990s was scandalous. Now that many of these have resurfaced, there is no longer an excuse to refuse a full, independent public inquiry to get to the bottom of this affair.

"I will be writing to every MP asking them to show their support for this campaign by signing the motion. Infected haemophiliacs and their families deserve to know how they came to be infected with life-threatening diseases. It is up to their MPs to ensure that, after 20 years of being kept in the dark, this finally happens."

Roddy Morris, Chairman of the Haemophilia Society added:

"There is no part of the country where people are not living with the consequences of having been infected through contaminated blood products. I would urge every MP to sign this early day motion and add their weight to the campaign to have this scandal fully and publicly investigated through a Public Inquiry."

Notes:

Jenny has tabled the following motion in Parliament with cross-party support. It currently has 50 MPs signatures:

EDM 496 Tainted Blood Campaign

"That this House notes that 4,800 British haemophiliacs and many others were infected with hepatitis C through their NHS treatment, with 1,200 of those also infected with HIV; further notes that over 800 people have already died from AIDS with hundreds more having died from hepatitis C; notes the destruction in the late 1980s and early 1990s of many documents relating to this issue that were being held by the Department of Health and that could have aided the Self-Sufficiency of blood products report into this affair in early 2006; is pleased that many of these documents have since been discovered by Blackett, Heart and Pratt Solicitors and have now been returned to the Department of Health for independent legal examination; notes that 40 boxes of relevant documents have also since been discovered by the Department of Health; is concerned that these have not yet been assigned for independent legal examination; supports the tainted blood campaign; believes that with the discovery of these documents there is now an ideal opportunity to get to the bottom of this issue by launching a full, independent public inquiry into contaminated blood products and to provide an official explanation to those who have fallen victim " directly or indirectly" to HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products after 20 years of dying in ignorance; and therefore urges the Government to respond positively to this campaign so that justice is seen to be done and can finally be secured on this issue."

During the 1970s and 1980s successive UK Governments imported large quantities of blood products from the USA for use in the NHS, despite the growing evidence that the products were contaminated and that they carried a high risk of passing on serious infections to users, especially haemophiliacs.

The Government produced a report into the affair in February 2006 but it was largely inconclusive, due to insufficient material available or contradictory evidence (see: http://www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/13/09/35/04130935.pdf The Department of Health said that large numbers of documents detailing the circumstances surrounding decisions to import and use such products were reportedly inadvertently destroyed by an inexperienced civil servant between 1989 and 1992.

However, since then, lawyers who acted for infected haemophiliacs in an action against the then Conservative Government have come forward with copies of many of these documents, and the Department of Health has also reportedly discovered 40 boxes of related documents.

According to Haemophilia Society, 4865 People with Haemophilia were infected with Hep C and 1,250 were also infected with HIV between 1979 and 1985. A Parliamentary Question from Caroline Flint MP, discovered that 2,538 of those infected with Hep C and 361 infected with HIV are still alive today (see Hansard Qu. No. 109464 or: http://www.haemophilia.org.uk/?content=NEWS&content_id=384).

The Haemophilia Society have a voluntary database for those affected by this issue that shows that even the smallest and most remote constituencies have haemophiliacs affected by this issue. With the 2,899 people affected that are still alive, this means that there are four victims for every MP, and it seems safe to assume that every MP will have a constituent affected by this issue.

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