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Monday, 19 February, 2001, 17:53 GMT
Inquiry call over infected blood
blood
Haemophiliacs were infected with contaminated blood
A top doctor is calling for a public inquiry into the use of imported blood to treat haemophiliacs - 70 of whom later died.

Dr Peter Jones, executive member of the World Federation of Haemophilia, said that back in the early 1970s, he had to give his patients imported blood products from America which were infected with HIV and hepatitis C.


There has, to my knowledge, never been full disclosure of the facts relating to the management and funding of the UK blood and blood product supply

Dr Peter Jones, World Federation of Haemophilia
During the 1970s and 1980s more than 4,500 haemophiliacs in Britain contracted hepatitis C while a further 1,200 became infected with HIV.

Other countries have launched investigations into the use of imported blood products, and Dr Jones is calling on the UK government to do the same.

He made his call for a public inquiry prior speaking as an expert witness today at a tribunal in Dublin on behalf of infected haemophiliacs.

He said: "I support the call for a public inquiry into how people with haemophilia were infected with HIV and hepatitis C in the course of their NHS treatment.

"Those of us with a responsibility for that treatment deeply regret that many of our patients were infected with those blood-borne viruses.

"Throughout the campaigns and litigation that followed the HIV epidemic of the 1980s there has, to my knowledge, never been full disclosure of the facts relating to the management and funding of the UK blood and blood product supply.

'Serious public concern'

"The public need to have confidence in their blood supply yet there remains serious public concern at how people became infected and the consequences of those infections.

Of Dr Jones' 105 haemophilia patients at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, 95 became infected with HIV and hepatitis C and 77 of them died.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "We do not believe anyone's interests would be served by holding a public inquiry.

"Little was known about HIV and Aids at the time and a test did not exist until 1985.

"Factor VIII was in great demand from haemophiliacs and vastly improved their quality of life. We imported plasma to meet that demand.

"We have great sympathy for the people affected but Government policy remains that compensation, or other financial help to patients, is only paid when the NHS or individuals working in it are at fault."

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See also:

12 Feb 01 | Health
Haemophiliacs strike protest
30 Jan 01 | Health
Haemophiliacs face vCJD scare
08 Apr 99 | Medical notes
Blood: The risks of infection
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