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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 23:17 GMT 00:17 UK
Blood campaigners call for millions
Some haemophiliacs received infected blood
Blood has been tested for Hep C since 1985
Haemophiliacs infected with hepatitis C through blood products should receive a compensation package worth 520m, campaigners say.

The Haemophilia Society has drawn up a scheme to help more than 3,000 patients or their families who were infected with Hep C - a virus which can cause fatal liver problems.

There are 2,829 affected people still alive, and families of another 820 patients covered under the plan.

But the Department of Health said that as the NHS was not at fault, there was no legal liability to pay.


In the UK, people with haemophilia who were infected with hepatitis C have never been compensated

Haemophilia Society spokeswoman
The patients were infected between 1969 and 1985 after receiving transfusions of contaminated Factor 8.

This chemical, which is missing in the blood of haemophiliacs, helps the clotting process.

Supplies of Factor 8 are made from the blood of thousands of donors, so theoretically it just took one who had Hep C to infect the supply, and potentially infect hundreds of haemophiliacs.

Recombinant therapy

The Haemophilia Society asked medical and legal experts to put together a compensation package, which will be submitted to health ministers on Tuesday.

Under the arrangement, which would cost 52m per year for 10 years, haemophiliacs infected with hepatitis C would be compensated depending on the severity of their condition.

Blood has been tested for hepatitis C since 1985, but campaigners are calling for all haemophiliacs to have access to recombinant therapy, a genetically engineered clotting factor.

Since 1998, all children under 16 have been treated with the therapy and most adults in Scotland and Wales are also now being treated with it.

A spokeswoman for the Haemophilia Society told BBC News Online: "We will present the report to ministers and see what they have to say about it.

"In the UK, people with haemophilia who were infected with hepatitis C have never been compensated, though people who contracted HIV through infected blood were."

She added that other counties had compensated those infected with hepatitis C.

Financial problems

The society surveyed haemophilia sufferers with hepatitis C.

The spokeswoman said: "We found that they were disadvantaged financially - 50% said it had forced them to cut down or give up their work.

"Three-quarters said it had had an adverse effect on their family and social life."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "Ministers met with the Haemophilia Society and the All Party Group on Haemophilia on 12 June to listen to the proposals in this report.

"However this government and its predecessor have held that compensation is only paid to patients when the NHS has been at fault and that an exception to this rule is not justified in the case of haemophiliacs infected with hepatitis C.

"We deeply regret that so many people with haemophilia were infected with hepatitis C through blood products.

"But the fact is that as soon as a technology became available to make blood products free from hepatitis C the NHS introduced it.

"There is therefore no justification for compensation based on legal liability for people with haemophilia and hepatitis C."

See also:

17 Jun 02 | Health
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30 Mar 00 | G-I
27 May 02 | Health
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