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Infected Blood Inquiry: Expert testimony welcomed by victims of contaminated blood scandal

PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 February 2020

Victims of the contaminated blood inquiry. Pictures: Infected and affected families

Victims of the contaminated blood inquiry. Pictures: Infected and affected families

Archant

“That’s the first time they have really got it on the nose. The first time any authorities have said the things we’ve been saying for decades.”

As the next stage of the Infected Blood Inquiry - led by Sir Brian Langstaff - began with testimony from intermediaries who had spoken to victims who did not feel able to give evidence themselves, and medical experts, one victim of the scandal was cautiously pleased to hear the day's evidence.

The victim, who preferred to remain anonymous and has been known as patient B, contracted HIV and Hepatitis C after being given contaminated blood products at the Royal Free Hospital.

The scandal saw thousands given such products or transfusions, and many have since died.

During the hearings, intermediaries Kay Durrant, Jackie Wilson and Pam Allen - all of whom have decades of experience as social workers and in interviewing vulnerable people, told the stories of victims including people who were devastated to learn of having potentially infected others after giving blood while unaware of their own infection, and a family forced to go into debt in order to pay for the funeral of their child.

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Psychosocial experts Professor John Weinman, Dame Lesley Fallowfield, Sian Edwards and Dr Nicky Thomas gave evidence on the impact of the scandal on mental health.

Dr Thomas told the inquiry of the impact the scandal had on victims' ability to live regular lives. She said: "If you have a physical disabling illness you can put the plans in place but the rug is going to be moved from under your feet. People's inability to plan just takes away the sense of living life."

As the inquiry resumed, in parliament Cardiff Central MP Jo Stephens called on the health secretary to "ensure parity of financial compensation for people affected by the infected blood scandal in each nation of the UK".

Her question was dealt with by junior minister Jo Churchill who said the government was working with devolved governments "to improve parity of support across the United Kingdom" and will consider any recommendations when the Infected Blood Inquiry reports.

Since the inquiry began, campaigners have urged the government not to wait for its conclusion before ensuring compensation.

The inquiry continues.


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