Thursday, September 9, 2010

"There was...crap in that stuff. This stuff was manky, it was filthy, it was dirty ... but they still stuck it in the arms of children"

Patients have called for the inquiry into how people were given infected blood by the Scottish NHS to have a wider remit, as hundreds of pages of evidence were published.
Campaigners hailed the release yesterday of the preliminary report by Lord Penrose, who is chairing the probe, as a milestone.
It included a list of issues that he will investigate during the next year, among them the use of commercial blood products after it was realised internationally that they carried a risk of Aids and the acceptance of blood donations from prisoners.
Hundreds of people in Scotland were given contaminated blood in the 1970s and 1980s either as treatment for blood clotting disorders or through blood transfusions.
The plight of those who caught HIV or hepatitis C as a result is acknowledged in the opening of the preliminary report.
It says: “It would have been impossible for any person involved in this inquiry to have been unaware of and to have remained untouched by the physical, mental and emotional suffering of the individuals and families affected by these serious and potentially fatal diseases.”
Campaign groups including Haemophilia Scotland said that after years of frustration they were pleased to have such a substantial document.
However, they expressed concern that many of the victims and their families who want to be core participants with legal representation when the inquiry progresses to oral hearings will be disappointed.
About 70 patients and their relatives applied to Lord Penrose to be core participants, but so far it is understood about 14 have been accepted.
In addition, Bruce Norval, who has hepatitis C after receiving contaminated blood, complained the inquiry would not explore other infections – in addition to hepatitis C and HIV – to which haemophiliacs given clotting agents may have been exposed.
He said: “One thing that needs to be highlighted is that haemophiliacs are due a public, truthful account of the full toxic potential of the clotting agents we were treated with from childhood. At the moment, the remit would not fully allow for that.
“What we are trying to get is an understanding why this small group of people, which was 500 strong, are now down to half that number, with more dying on a monthly basis.
“There was all kinds of crap in that stuff. This stuff was manky, it was filthy, it was dirty and they knew it, but they still stuck it in the arms of children.”
The inquiry will examine how patients affected were tested for infections and informed about the results. According to the report, almost two-thirds of patient witnesses said they did not know they were being tested for hepatitis C or HIV and a number describe finding out they had hepatitis C years after tests were carried out.
Lord Penrose has been given accounts of doctors dismissing the illness as “nothing to worry about”, while one witness with HIV said the doctor who told his family was “quite blase”.
The report was released after the inquiry team analysed more than 80,000 documents and took more than 100 statements from patients and relatives.
Solicitor Advocate Patrick McGuire, of Thompsons solicitors, the recognised legal representative of families and sufferers, welcomed the report.
He said: “The document … is clearly very well reasoned and therefore a clear measure of the amount of work that has been put in by Lord Penrose and his team and for that I would personally like to thank him.”
He added that it was subject to consultation and he would be discussing some issues with Lord Penrose.
Lord Penrose said: “It is important to emphasise that I have not reached any conclusions on matters of fact or provided any recommendations at this stage and the list of topics that I have included for further investigation at the public hearings is not definitive.
“I am now inviting comments on these topics from interested individuals and organisations by the end of October.”

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