Suicide bid of contaminated blood victim left in abject squalor
PUBLISHED: 16:50 29 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:50 29 October 2015
A man infected with a killer virus by the NHS has tried to end his life after claiming to have been pushed to the edge by financial hardship.
Pensioner Philip Wellman’s suicide bid comes just months after the government delayed releasing £25million to assist victims of the contaminated blood scandal.
The 69-year-old was infected with hepatitis C (hep C) through an NHS blood transfusion in the early 1970s following a car crash.
He is unable to work due to ill health and, in desperation over his squalid living conditions, took an overdose last week in France, thousands of miles away from his home town of Hampstead.
“It’s desperate,” he said. “I’ve never been so low in my life.
COMMENT: Come on David Cameron, speed up support for victims...
The contaminated blood scandal is a tragedy that has drawn on for far too long. Despite promises from this government that new financial support is on the way, there is little sign this will happen soon.
Meanwhile thousands who have lost their health as a result of killer viruses continue to live in poverty. The failure runs deep.
We welcome the government’s pledge to make £25million available to victims. Today the Ham&High calls on prime minister David Cameron to speed up the release of these funds.
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq has backed our calls, saying: “For those affected this tragedy has drawn on for far too long. The prime minister promised £25million and a review into better financial support to compensate them for their losses, but the victims are still waiting, after more than two decades of being infected with HIV and hepatitis C.
“As the recent stories in the Ham&High paint all too starkly, we are now starting to see the very distressing, human effects this has. Those still alive, and their families, are faced with a daily struggle to make ends meet and navigate a complex system of support. Sometimes the stress is too much. The government has promised to put this right, but needs to announce more details soon so those affected can live with dignity.”
Until then the Ham&High will continue to press the government to stick to its promises.
“Luckily the gendarme broke down my front door and saved my life.”
Just a small amount of money would help Mr Wellman, who lives in an isolated French village after moving from Hampstead, but has run into hardship.
“I’m living on fresh air,” he said.
“My gas cooker has blown up, I have no kettle, no hot water, no dishwasher.
“I’ve got a hernia operation on Monday, which is hep C related.
“I’ll come out of hospital to an empty house with no heating or hot water, on my own, alone.”
His situation illustrates starkly the impact of continued funding delays on those whose health has been ruined by the contaminated blood scandal.
More than 7,000 people were infected with HIV or hep C from blood products used by the NHS up until 1991.
In July the government announced that £25million to help victims would not be released until after the autumn spending review.
Prime minister David Cameron had promised the cash would be allocated during the last parliament.
“It’s absolutely disgusting that they’ve just left us,” said Mr Wellman.
“That money would make a massive difference. I’m struggling on pennies.”
In June the Ham&High ran a series of articles publicising the blood victims’ fight for justice.
Despite three decades of campaigning and more than 2,000 deaths there has been no public enquiry and no proper system of compensation.
Yet thousands, like Mr Wellman, continue to suffer.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We understand that this tragedy has been extremely distressing for those affected and their families.
“Financial assistance and other support continues to be a priority and we remain committed to helping those who have been affected.”
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ham&High. Click the link in the orange box above for details.