Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 13:33 UK

Protest anger at blood 'scandal'

Contaminated blood protesters
Protesters gathered outside the minister's constituency office

Haemophiliacs have protested outside the health secretary's constituency office in Greater Manchester as part of a fight for compensation.

The protesters say they want the government to take responsibility for a "scandal" over contaminated blood.

They say at least 2,000 people have died since they were given infected NHS blood 20 years ago.

They are calling for an independent inquiry, and want MP and Secretary of State Andy Burnham to take action.

Contaminated blood

Many members of the Haemophiliac Society UK say there has not been enough government recognition of or compensation for their situation.

The patients were infected with the contaminated blood in the mid-1980s when they were given Factor VIII - a part of the blood that makes sure it clots.

Dozens of protestors, some of whom are seriously ill with Aids and Hepatitis C, arrived at Mr Burnham's office in Leigh from around the country.

Haemophiliac David Fielding, 55, who is terminally ill with Hepatitis C, is among those highlighting the issue.

His brother, who was also a haemophiliac, died from Aids five years after he was infected with the disease in 1985.

Mr Fielding, a father-of three, said: "A whole chapter of my family's life was taken away when we were diagnosed with these two diseases.

'Terrible' experience

"From the day my brother was told he had HIV he told no one. We only discovered that he battled with the the killer illness after he died.

"What happened to me, him, thousands of us is terrible and we want the government to reform their policy.

"Luckily my children were not born with the disease but they are carriers so unfortunately my grandson has just recently been diagnosed with it.

"We are fighting to make sure this never happens again."

A report by Lord Peter Archer investigated the supply of the contaminated NHS blood and looked at the impact on the victims and their families.

The report, released in February, called for victims to receive further compensation and criticised the government's delays in responding.

A Department of Health spokesman was not available for comment about Friday's protests.

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