NHS contaminated blood was ‘criminal cover-up’ – former Health Secretary Andy Burnham

SIBF and Haemophilia Scotland’s first Joint Member meeting
11th April 2017
Andy Burnham – ‘willfull negligence by the state’ and ‘a cover-up on an industrial scale’ – Full speech text
26th April 2017
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NHS contaminated blood was ‘criminal cover-up’ – former Health Secretary Andy Burnham

Former Health Secreatry Andy Burnham made an empassioned speech at Westminster, saying

I want to refocus everybody on giving victims what they’ve never had – the truth

From BBC News 26 April 2017:

A “criminal cover-up on an industrial scale” took place over the use of NHS contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s, former Health Secretary Andy Burnham has claimed.

More than 2,000 deaths have been linked to the scandal in which haemophiliacs and others were infected with hepatitis C and HIV from imported blood products.

Speaking in the Commons, the Labour MP said victims were “guinea pigs”.

Health minister Nicola Blackwood resisted calls for a fresh inquiry.

She said thousands of documents had been released by the Department of Health in relation to the scandal, while two reviews had already been carried out.

In 2015, the then Prime Minster David Cameron apologised to thousands of victims of the contaminated blood scandal.

‘Deliberate cover-up’

A parliamentary report had found around 7,500 patients were infected by imported blood products – contracting hepatitis C and HIV – the virus that can develop into Aids.

The UK imported supplies of the clotting agent Factor VIII – some of which turned out to be infected. Much of the plasma used to make Factor VIII came from donors like prison inmates in the US, who sold their blood.

More than 2,000 UK patients have since died as a result.

Now Mr Burnham is calling for a public “Hillsborough-style inquiry” – echoing calls already made by the Haemophilia Society and victims’ families.

In what was his final speech in the Commons – having announced he will not stand in the upcoming election – the MP for Leigh outlined evidence that he claimed amounted to “deliberate, provable acts of cover-up”.

He gave examples of inappropriate treatment given to patients, tests being done on people without their knowledge or consent, and results from such tests being withheld for several years.

He labelled these “criminal acts”, and compared campaigning by relatives of infected people to the efforts by families of Liverpool football fans crushed to death in the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989.

He said both cases “resulted in appalling negligence from public bodies” and involved “an orchestrated campaign to prevent the truth from being told”.

Mr Burnham told the Commons he will take his claims to the police if a new inquiry is not established before Parliament breaks for its summer recess in July.

Speaking during the adjournment debate, Mr Burnham cited the cases of three victims.

One of those was haemophiliac Ken Bullock, infected with non-A, non-B hepatitis, who died in 1998.

His widow said that in December 1983, her husband’s medical notes changed to suggest he was “a clinical alcoholic”.

Mr Burnham told MPs this accusation escalated over the next 15 years, with Mr Bullock unaware of the “appalling” claims.

Mr Bullock was possibly refused a liver transplant based on his falsified medical records saying he was an alcoholic, Mr Burnham said.

Factor VIII ‘warnings’

The MP later mentioned two documents, including a 1975 letter from Stanford University’s medical centre warning the source blood is “100% is from skid row derelicts”.

Last year, the UK government launched a consultation on the money available to to those affected by the scandal.

As a result, the government announced that victims in England with stage 1 Hepatitis C would receive £3,500 a year, with the provision to appeal for a higher payment close to the £15,000 received by HIV patients who received toxic blood.

It also announced it will fund payment for the bereaved partner or spouse of individuals infected with Hepatitis C and/or HIV as a result of receiving NHS-supplied blood products.

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