Infected Blood Inquiry: Expert reports re-affirm devastating impact of contaminated blood

Campaigners in ties and ribbons, outside Church House, Westminster, as the preliminary hearings of

Campaigners in ties and ribbons, outside Church House, Westminster, as the preliminary hearings of the Infected Blood Inquiry are set to begin. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

On Monday the Infected Blood Inquiry will resume in central London.

The inquiry, headed by Sir Brian Langstaff, will spend a week hearing from a number of medical experts and intermediaries who will report back on the consequences of the scandal for those who did not feel able to give evidence themselves.

Ahead of the hearings, both the intermediaries and the four expert groups - dealing with "the psychosocial impact of infection with HIV, hepatitis C and other viruses", hepatitis itself, HIV, and on bleeding and blood disorders generally - have submitted reports to help inform Sir Brian.

The bleeding and blood disorders expert group confirmed what has been said repeatedly in testimony: "It was recognised through the early 1970s that F8 concentrates made from pooled plasma bore a risk of hepatitis B and non -A non-B hepatitis [hepatitis C]."

Meanwhile the report from the group of experts looking into the psychosocial impacts of the scandal serves as further confirmation of the trauma those infected and their families have suffered. It said: "For people who received infected blood or infected blood products, the psychological impacts were compounded over a long period of time by the experience of further serious medical problems and intrusive treatments, which in turn resulted in many debilitating symptoms and side effects."

The other expert groups' reports lay out the clinical histories of each disease.

The hepatitis report explaines the high proportion of liver disease and liver cancer related deaths among the haemophiliac community.

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It reads: "Deaths from liver disease were 16.7 times higher and deaths from liver cancer 5.6 times higher than in the general population.137 Most of this increased risk was probably due to hepatitis C infection."

The hepatitis experts also discussed how, even with people who had "cleared" the disease likely to see "some improvement" in liver function, they still had "a long-term risk of developing [liver cancer]."

The inquiry hearings begin again on Monday February 24 at Fleetbank House off Fleet Street.