THOMPSONS: NO STONE SHOULD BE LEFT UNTURNED BY INQUIRY
The emotional testimonies of family members and victims infected with HIV from NHS blood and blood products have been released today by the Penrose Inquiry into the scandal.
The detailed personal accounts lift the lid on the intense pain, suffering and courage of the victims and their families as they continue to deal with the aftermath of one of the biggest health scandals to hit Scotland’s Health Service.
The inquiry, conducted by Lord Penrose, was set up in 2008 following a lengthy campaign by the victims, their families and Thompsons Solicitors to get answers and learn lessons from a scandal which saw hundreds of patients and haemophiliacs across Scotland infected with Hepatitis C and HIV through blood and blood products administered in NHS hospitals in the 70s and 80s. It also appears that a number of the victims formed part of a medical study without their consent and were notified of their infection years after doctors first became aware of their condition. Reacting to the release, Thompsons Solicitors, who are the lawyers appointed by Lord Penrose to represent all of the transfusion and haemophiliac victims at the inquiry, said that the transcripts revealed the incredible pain and suffering caused by the scandal and called for “no stone to be left unturned” by the inquiry to get justice and answers for the victims.
Solicitor for the victims, Patrick McGuire from Thompsons Solicitors, said:
“These emotional accounts reveal the human side of this scandal. The victims and their families found their lives turned upside down by HIV and Hepatitis C through no fault of their own. It is simply impossible to imagine the suffering they’ve been through.
“Their strength and determination for answers got this inquiry and they must not be let down. No stone should be left unturned by Lord Penrose. This must be an inquiry which gets real answers and justice for the victims.
“This is a tragedy that has devastated lives and exposed serious failings in the administration of blood products in Scotland. Real lessons must be learned to ensure that no one will ever suffer in this way again.”
“Elaine’s” husband was a haemophiliac infected with HIV after treatment in Edinburgh. He tested positive in 1984 but was not told of his condition until 1986. He passed away in 1992 and his wife was informed that he also had Hepatitis C 11 years after his death. Reacting to the release of the statements, she said:
“It’s so important that every victim gets answers and lessons are learned from this scandal. My husband and our family went for years not knowing that he was infected with HIV and Hepatitis C- we were kept in the dark.
“Devastated and angry doesn’t even come close to what we felt and still feel today.
“This scandal has taken a soul-mate, a great father and a loving grandfather from us. This should never have happened and should never be allowed to happen again.”
“Mark”, a haemophiliac also treated at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, now has severe problems with his sight as a cause of his HIV infection. He finally found out that he was infected in 1991 between the age of 20 and 21- his records confirm his infection in 1984. He said:
"My life has been ruined by this scandal. To say I'm outraged is putting it lightly. I was tested on for years without my or my parents' consent. I was used and abused by the doctors involved.
"They knew I was HIV positive and had hepatitis C but kept quiet. They've taken my life away from me.
"When they finally told me I was open mouthed in disbelief. My world had just been smashed to pieces. I wanted to get out of the hospital as soon as possible. My life has been ruined. It's a mess.
"Serious questions need to be answered."
“David”, a haemophiliac who contracted HIV through treatment in Glasgow, and who found out that he had been infected when he was 19 years old, said:
"It is important people are made aware of the impact on the lives of haemophiliacs and their families from having received contaminated treatment and the huge uncertainty this has caused.
“It is also important the medical profession recognises the mistakes of the past and that lessons are learned for future generations."
Please note names have been changed to protect the identity of the victims.
For more details see http://www.penroseinquiry.org.uk/public-hearings/transcripts-by-date/
Correction - This article has been changed from the version posted on 10th August 2011 after an error was made. “David”, one of the participants in the Inquiry, was described as having been told of his infection “years after doctors knew of his condition”. A number of our clients do believe there were delays in informing them of their condition, but we recognise that this statement regarding “David” was incorrect and featured in the article as a result of an editorial error. The comment has since been removed and we apologise unreservedly to anyone to whom this comment caused offence or distress.
We always aim to maintain the highest standards of content on this site and any information we share with people. In this instance it has fallen short of such standards and we have taken action to prevent any reoccurrence of such errors.