Contaminated blood scandal: Anger over key Department of Health documents marked 'irrelevant' by government auditor
PUBLISHED: 18:30 04 September 2019
Contaminated blood scandal campaigners are furious after important documents relating to central issues in the treatment disaster - including how the HIV and hepatitis viruses could be vulnerable to heat - were marked as "irrelevant".
Thousands of people have died because they contracted deadly viruses including HIV when given blood factor products to treat haemophilia, or when receiving tainted blood transfusions.
When a government auditor went over the Department of Health's (DHSC) files before the ongoing Infected Blood public inquiry, at least 50 files with titles relating to the inquiry's terms of reference were labelled "unrelated or unlikely to be relevant".
Another marked as such is titled "Haemophilia, CJD & Blood Products". Jason Evans, of the Factor 8 Campaign Group who made the discovery after file names were disclosed to him under Freedom of Information law told the Ham&High it "was really straightforward" to see that the files were not "unrelated".
He added: "The really disappointing thing is that every time I think to check something - every single time - it turns out they haven't done it right.
"What if I hadn't checked? If I hadn't thought to, we just wouldn't have any idea."
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Jason's father died in 1993 after contracting HIV and hepatits C from blood products.
Highgate's Della Ryness-Hirsch, whose son Nick died after contracting hepatitis C from contaminated blood factor products was also unsurprised and angry by this issue.
She told this newspaper: "I have never believed what the DHSC said about the documentation they hold."
A spokesperson for the DHSC said: "We are committed to being open and transparent with the inquiry and have waived the usual legal privileges to assist the process. We have already sent thousands of documents to the inquiry and will continue to send more when necessary."
They also said the audit was not to decide which files to pass to the inquiry, and emphasised the inquiry was able to request any files it wished from the DHSC.
Earlier this year, Jason discovered in the same audit letter that "almost a thousand" files had been "checked out" by staff and were unaccounted for.
The DHSC said it is "following up" on that issue.