Search

Victim of NHS ‘killer blood’ left in poverty as David Cameron pledge expires

PUBLISHED: 07:30 18 December 2014 | UPDATED: 12:44 18 December 2014

Philip Wellman contracted Hepatitus C after being given a batch of 'killer blood'

Philip Wellman contracted Hepatitus C after being given a batch of 'killer blood'

Archant

A pensioner who was among thousands infected by contaminated blood, in a scandal described by health experts as “the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS”, is facing Christmas living in poverty as a pledge by the prime minister to properly compensate victims expired this week.

Philip Wellman says his more than 40-year battle with Hepatitis C has reached “a tipping point” as he faces the winter without heating or electricity. He is unable to afford a plane ticket to see his wife, child and grandchildren in his hometown of Hampstead.

It comes after the 68-year-old was involved in a car crash in the early 1970s and became one of more than 5,000 given “killer blood” transfusions by the NHS.

The tainted batch, like many supplied to patients during the 1970s and 1980s, was imported by the Department of Health from US pharmaceutical companies due to supply shortages.

A recent privately-funded inquiry, led by the government’s former solicitor general Lord Peter Archer, found many batches of this blood came from drug addicts, sex workers and other criminals incarcerated in US prisons. The practice continued, it was alleged, “long after alarms had been sounded”.

With the blood riddled with deadly viruses like Hepatitis C and HIV, more than 2,000 of the infected are said to have since died as a result.

Many were infected at the Royal Free Hospital’s haemophiliac centre in Hampstead and the affair has been branded by MPs as “the last major, unclosed government scandal”.

As campaigners continue to accuse the government of an “enormous cover-up”, Mr Wellman says he is hoping David Cameron will “do the right thing” and give survivors proper compensation.

He told the Ham&High: “What the government did to us, and what they’re still doing to us, is horrendous – people would be in disbelief if they knew the story.

“I used to run a successful heating and plumbing business while living with my wife in Belsize Grove and now I can’t even heat my own home.

“The prison blood I was infected with forced me to quit my job, meaning I had to sell my house and move to the middle of nowhere in France where housing is cheaper.

“I now can’t afford to see my wife and daughter, let alone buy my grandchildren Christmas presents. I’m at my wits end.

“Us campaigners just want the government to give us the compensation we deserve so we can provide for our families after we’ve died.”

Successive governments going back to the days when Harold Wilson was prime minister have refused to hold a judicial inquiry into the disaster.

Lord Archer’s 2011 report, which did not have statutory powers, deemed the “horrific human tragedy” avoidable, and said the affair saw “commercial interests take precedence over public health concerns”.

Alistair Burt MP, a prominent campaigner for those affected, said: “This is one of the last unclosed, government scandals.

“We’ve had the Hillsborough Report, the investigations into Bloody Sunday – it’s not wrong to think of this in the same context. We need answers.

“Trying to bring all this together is not easy but I’m hoping the government will make some kind of announcement soon.

“While I think a full judicial inquiry is probably unlikely, we need someone from the government answering questions.”

One individual infected at the Royal Free, a haemophiliac who contracted HIV and Hepatitis C, was just a child when he was told.

Wishing to remain anonymous because of the anti-AIDS abuse he was subject to growing up, he said: “I was 12-years-old when they told me I had HIV.

“A nurse in the Royal Free centre’s foyer came up to me and said I had been infected with HIV. I didn’t know what it meant.

“Later I joined an assembly line of other infected children and was taken into an office to be told I had just three years to live.

“It sounds like a totally unbelievable story, but this happened to us. And there’s been no proper inquiry, documents ‘accidentally’ destroyed and nobody wanting to talk.

“It’s shocking.”

In Scotland, an inquiry is currently under way into the affair and how it affected patients in Scotland.

The Penrose Inquiry is in the final stages of its report, currently issueing warning letters to individuals and organisations likely to be named.

Six months ago David Cameron made a verbal pledge to a constituent infected by contaminated blood to “sort out” proper compensation for victims in England.

While some funding has been provided, this has been done via charitable trusts rather than direct to each victim, leading to the annoyance of those infected having to go “cap in hand” to receive money.

Campaigners have also complained much of this money has failed to materialise.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “In 2011, we announced a package of measures to provide more support for those affected, but we know that some people remain unhappy with the current system and we are looking carefully at what more could be done.”

A spokesman for the Royal Free added: “Doctors at the Royal Free Hospital took great care to deliver diagnoses to the affected patients in a sensitive and compassionate manner, in consultation with experts from within the hospital and the national and international arena.

“The patients were also offered psychological support when they were given their diagnosis and this support for patients continues to the present day.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:08

Barnet Council’s finances came under scrutiny last week as the fallout continued from the fraud that saw a Capita employee swindle £2m from council coffers.

Yesterday, 16:06

Haringey is “prostituting” Finsbury Park out for Wireless Festival and should scrap the event, neighbours argued at a licensing sub-committee meeting last night.

Yesterday, 11:41

A former council candidate and a management consultant have been chosen to stand for the Green Party at the next general election.

Mon, 16:23

Up to 100 children looted cheap sweets from a supermarket off Stroud Green Road and threw missiles at cars in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Mon, 14:31

A third-floor room was badly damaged in a fire in Golders Green on Saturday night.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A “cowardly career criminal” who held vulnerable women at knifepoint during a six-week spree robbing shops has been jailed.

Friday, October 12, 2018

“It stank. It smelt like the goat pen at London Zoo.”

Friday, October 12, 2018

A Hampstead school has scrapped a pilot project that saw commercial helicopters landing on its playing fields after neighbours complained it was causing “quite a riot”.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now