Suicide bid of contaminated blood victim left in abject squalor

Philip Wellman contracted hepatitus C from an NHS blood transfusion, his health has been ruined by t

Philip Wellman contracted hepatitus C from an NHS blood transfusion, his health has been ruined by the virus - Credit: Archant

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.

The worn out sofa where Philip Wellman often sleeps

The worn out sofa where Philip Wellman often sleeps - Credit: Archant

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.

“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.

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“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.”

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