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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 May, 2003, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK
Compensation fears over missing records
Blood donation - generic
The blood products were used in the early 1980s
Patients in Scotland who were given contaminated blood products from America could miss out on thousands of pounds in compensation because hospitals have lost their records.

Lawyers have until the end of this week to file a claim for compensation against the pharmaceutical companies accused of supplying the NHS with clotting agents contaminated with hepatitis C and HIV.

In the early 1980s Scottish supplies of a clotting factor for patients with blood disorders ran low, and the NHS imported it from America.

American Factor 8 was gathered from high-risk donors, such as prisoners and drug-addicts.

Clotting agent

It is believed that all the Scottish patients who received the blood were infected with hepatitis C, and in some cases HIV.

A joint action for compensation against the pharmaceutical companies involved is now imminent, but patients need to prove they were given the American clotting agent before they can take part.

Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm has instructed hospitals to hand over all relevant medical records, but some NHS trusts now say these have been lost.

I feel very angry that just because I was born with a congenital defect it does not mean that I should have been laid open to such experimentation by doctors
Colette Wintle

American laws mean that all claims must be filed by the end of this week, and it looks likely that this opportunity for compensation will be closed to many patients forever.

Those affected include Colette Wintle, who was treated with a clotting agent in the 1970s and 1980s for a hereditary disorder.

The former model, air hostess and nurse has been left crippled by hepatitis C, which she believes she contracted from contaminated blood which probably came from America.

However, she cannot pursue compensation because Glasgow Royal Infirmary has lost her records.

"I feel very angry that just because I was born with a congenital defect it does not mean that I should have been laid open to such experimentation by doctors who were looking after me," she said.

"They should have been offering me the best and safest treatment available at the time and giving me an informed choice on that treatment.

Handed over

"That was denied me and the way I see it now, they have obstructed any possibility of justice within the United Kingdom."

Mr Chisholm told BBC Scotland that he had made it clear to health authorities that records must be handed over.

He urged patients whose records have been lost or destroyed to contact his department immediately.

Thousands of haemophiliacs in the UK were infected with hepatitis C after receiving tainted blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Scotland's Eleanor Bradford
"Scottish supplies ran low during the 1980s"


Eleanor Bradford reports
"It is probably already too late."



SEE ALSO:
Probe into hepatitis testing
06 May 03  |  Scotland
Police report on tainted blood
23 Apr 03  |  Scotland
Experts step up compensation calls
24 Mar 03  |  Scotland
Hepatitis sufferer's inquiry call
18 Mar 03  |  Scotland
Blood compensation 'derisory'
25 Feb 03  |  Scotland
The fight for Hep C compensation
17 Jan 03  |  Scotland


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