Infected Blood Inquiry: Pupils at school were research subjects

Factor VII blood products, Sir Brian Langstaff. Picture: Factor VIII / Infected Blood Inquiry

Factor VII blood products, Sir Brian Langstaff. Picture: Factor VIII / Infected Blood Inquiry - Credit: Archant

Evidence about how haemophiliacs at the Lord Mayor Treloar's School in Hampshire were treated in the 1970s has highlighted how doctors were aware giving patients blood products carried a risk of transmitting viruses. 

The Infected Blood Inquiry (IBI) led by Sir Brian Langstaff heard from former pupils, parents and a headteacher over a traumatic week in central London. 

Patients from around the country - including at the Royal Free - were sometimes sent to the school if their haemophilia was making life in conventional schooling impossible. 

At least 72 haemophiliacs who attended the school are known to have died after contracting HIV or hepatitis C from contaminated blood products.

The IBI has also announced its next hearings will see former Department of Health figures including former Health Secretary Ken Clarke and Lord Simon Glenarthur give evidence.

Last week the evidence about Treloar's included counsel to the inquiry Jenni Richards QC summarising witness statements, including from Sheila Squires - whose son Peter was a patient at the Royal Free who attended the school. 

Ms Richards said, from the statements, it is clear Dr Katherine Dormandy encouraged several patients at the Royal Free to attend Treloar's.

Dr Dormandy, who died in 1978, founded the Royal Free's haemophilia centre - which now bears her name.

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The inquiry heard that the boys at Treloar's were involved in research studies during the 1970s.

During the course of one hepatitis study, Dr Peter Kirk, who worked at the haematology centre at the school, requested the participants only receive one type of blood product, the inquiry heard.

Despite the concerns surrounding giving the boys different types of blood products during the trial, there was not “a change of therapy, or change in the approach to treatment”, following the study, Ms Richards said.

Letters were shown, demonstrating doctors asking for permission for the boys to take part, however some of the forms “simply don’t explain what it is the parent is consenting to”, she said.

Earlier in the week, the school's former headteacher, said he felt there was nothing more the school could have done to support pupils emotionally after they were diagnosed with HIV and hepatitis as “they were infected and were going to die”.

The IBI continues in July.