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‘The state killed my nephew’: Former MP Lynne Featherstone

PUBLISHED: 12:14 15 April 2016 | UPDATED: 12:16 15 April 2016

Baroness Lynne Featherstone, pictured speaking to protestors at Parliament, has spoken publicly for the first time about an NHS treatment disaster that killed her nephew. Picture: Polly Hancock

Baroness Lynne Featherstone, pictured speaking to protestors at Parliament, has spoken publicly for the first time about an NHS treatment disaster that killed her nephew. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Baroness and former MP Lynne Featherstone has revealed in public for the first time how ‘the state killed’ her nephew as part of a health scandal which has cost thousands of lives.

Musician Nick Hirsch died aged 35 after being infected with the virus hepatitis C from contaminated bloodMusician Nick Hirsch died aged 35 after being infected with the virus hepatitis C from contaminated blood

The former Hornsey and Wood Green MP joined her sister and brother-in-law on the picket line with victims of the contaminated blood scandal at a protest outside Parliament on Tuesday.

Some 6,000 people - including the MP’s nephew Nick Hirsch - were infected with HIV or hepatitis C by inferior blood products used by the NHS up until 1991, despite the risks being known.

After a long struggle with ill health caused by hep C, Highgate resident and musician Nick lost his life four years ago.

He was just 35-years-old and left a 10-month-old daughter and his partner of 14 years.

Nick's parents Dan and Della Hirsch at the protest outside Parliament. Picture: Polly HancockNick's parents Dan and Della Hirsch at the protest outside Parliament. Picture: Polly Hancock

Baroness Featherstone said in a post on Liberal Democrat Voice: “The state killed my nephew. It’s true.

“Nick was a haemophiliac and was infected with hepatitis C and exposed to CJD through NHS treatment. And the government knew the treatments were contaminated. They were warned.

“The NHS used blood treatment which bought blood from American convicts. But the government carried on using contaminated blood products despite those warnings.

“Nick’s mother (my sister), his father and his twin will never get over that loss. And that loss is made worse by the battle to get financial support and to get the government to admit its fault. It has never done so.”

Nick Hirsch was a talented musicianNick Hirsch was a talented musician

Nick’s mother and father, Della and Dan Hirsch, were visibly emotional as they joined crowds at the demonstration.

Mrs Hirsch, of Highgate, said: “It was the fourth anniversary of Nick’s death recently and his twin is just about to turn 40 without him.”

His mother has campaigned for many years to seek justice for Nick and thousands of others affected by the scandal.

As a young child, Nick was among a rare number of people who spontaneously develop the blood clotting disorder haemophilia. He was treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital with new blood factor products.

Tragically, his mother tried to warn doctors that there was a problem with the treatment after seeing press coverage in America in the early 1980s but was ignored.

“None of this would have happened if Great Ormond Street would have listened when I told them that the blood was contaminated, at least they might have looked to see what was in the blood,” she said. “Instead they wrote across Nick’s file ‘hysterical mother’.”

She appealed for the government to finally bring dignity and closure to those who continue to live with the debilitating health consequences of the treatment disaster.

“Now I would just like them to acknowledge that something really dreadful has happened and that many, many people are in such dire-straits,” she said.

“There should be an acknowledgment that people are suffering because of what happened, whom so ever caused it, and the government should be compassionate and determined to see those that are left should not have to suffer.”

COMMENT: ‘The government must admit its fault’ - Baroness Lynne Featherstone

Nick was a haemophiliac and was infected with hepatitis C and exposed to CJD through NHS treatment.

And the government knew the treatments were contaminated. They were warned. The NHS used blood treatment which bought blood – from American convicts. But the government carried on using contaminated blood products despite those warnings.

The result was 4,670 haemophiliacs in the UK infected with HIV, hepatitis C or both – and many exposed to CJD. In regard of the latter the consequences of that exposure are still unknown. In terms of HIV and hepatitis C almost all haemophiliacs were infected with one or other or both. Over 2,000 have died.

Nick died of Hepatitis C – or rather he died from a treatment meant to cure it. Nick was 35-years-old, and left a 10-month-old daughter, his partner of 14 years.

Nick’s mother (my sister), his father and his twin will never get over that loss. And that loss is made worse by the battle to get financial support and to get the government to admit its fault.

It has never done so. The crucial papers were destroyed according the Department of Health.

Lord David Owen, former British health minister said ‘I can see why some people would be unhappy with having all the facts revealed because it will show negligence’. No public inquiry has taken place. It must.


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