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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 17:57 GMT
Blood infection trace 'not done'
Blood test
Campaigners have been seeking answers on blood infection
No effort has been made to trace thousands of patients who may have contracted hepatitis C or HIV from infected blood, MSPs have heard.

Members of Holyrood's health committee were questioning Health Minister Andy Kerr over calls for a public inquiry.

Hundreds of Scots received contaminated blood during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Mr Kerr revealed that there had been no attempt to trace all patients receiving blood products during the period. He added he would now consider the move.

Earlier the committee had heard moving evidence from hepatitis C victims as they called for an independent public inquiry into the use of infected blood and blood products.

Files destroyed

Mr Kerr then told them he remained unconvinced that such an inquiry would achieve very much.

However, under questioning, he and his officials revealed that no effort had been made to trace patients who had been treated at the time.

MSPs were surprised and the minister gave an assurance that he would investigate the possibility of mounting such a trace now.

We will look closely at the case for further tracing
Andy Kerr
Health Minister

Mr Kerr said: "The issue of traceability of blood supplies is separate from the issue of a public inquiry.

"Following today's committee appearance we have urgently investigated the extent to which there was tracing of people potentially at risk following receipt of blood products in the 1970s and 80s."

The minister said that if any donor was identified as having hepatitis C that any patient who might have been affected was informed.

But he added: "This would not have identified blood products given by one-off donors. That is why we will look closely at the case for further tracing."

The UK Government admitted in January that nearly all its files on the infection of patients through NHS blood products had been destroyed.

The government denied campaigners' claims of a cover-up and said it was a "regrettable" accident.

Hepatitis C is a life-threatening condition which can lead to liver cancer.


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