Grenfell Tower vs. Contaminated Blood

Joint member meeting July 14th – Clinical Review Group and the UK Inquiry
18th June 2018
How much is ‘fair and full’ support?
20th June 2018

Here we post an astute Forum entry from an SIBF member. The sentiments conveyed do not necessarily represent the Forum’s Trustees, staff or members’ views as a whole but are included to promote debate, discussion and engagement with current affairs which may have a bearing on future actions.

“Well of course I don’t begrudge those poor people of Grenfell Tower – so terribly affected by the horrific tragedy of an apparently unnecessary inferno – as they receive so much media and political attention over the year since the event and beyond. No, of course I dont begrudge them. But I can’t help feeling a mix of emotions and reactions – which could be construed in a negative way – about the abundance of publicity that that disaster is attracting compared to the contaminated blood scandal. Am I being jealous, envious, or just plain annoyed at the public profile they are ‘enjoying’ (not enjoying in any fun way to be clear)? Am I pointing at the Grenfell dead and bereft with some sort of outraged reproach that plays into the hands of those ‘powers that be’ who might well gain some kind of twisted ‘enjoyment’ from a ‘one victim group being set against another victim group’ scenario in a contrived competition for public sympathy and attention? No, no and no. After all, we as the contaminated blood cohort have already faced cruel accusations ourselves, for example, that any support we receive is at the expense of other NHS patients. (And what kind of poison-minded person thought that one up?).

So no, absolutely not do I intend any mean-spirited response to the Grenfell Tower fire victims, the survivors or their nearest and dearest. The personalised tributes describing the 72 men, women and children who so sadly, painfully and probably unnecessarily lost their lives have come across as appropriate, genuine and sobering. The problem is certainly not with those mourning and maimed by that tragedy, but the problem is with the glaring lack of any such acknowledgements related to the contaminated blood victims and survivors. It just rankles to see all the dubiously deferential commiserations that have come to the fore with Grenfell; mixed in of course with all the real, sincere and heartfelt empathy from the rest of the nation. Forget the ‘elephant in the (Grenfell) room’ with its undertones related to race, culture, assumptions of healthcare holidaying, benefit dependency, and the rest. Again, the contaminated blood cohort have likewise faced scurrilous presumptions, with lesser elephantine unspokenness, of money-grabbing opportunism, exaggerating detriments and deleterious ingratitude towards surely innocent health professionals.

As I reflect on the undoubted losses and the outpourings of solidarity directed at the Grenfell victims and survivors, I am caused to wonder about the disproportionately absent fairness in relation to the contaminated blood disaster. Here are my thoughts:

– Where is our wall-to-wall media coverage?
– Where is our expert analysis and commentary about what appears to have gone wrong?
– Where is our Prime Ministerial apology for not coming to meet with victims and survivors at the earliest opportunity?
– Where is our poem of lament penned by an established writer?
– Where is our on-the-ground task force of dedicated psychosocial supports?
– Where was the urgency to establish a Public Inquiry to cover our disaster?
– Where are the individual and poignant personal stories of our lost ones in all the various media channels?
– Where is our crowd-funded stop-gap support campaign?
– Where is the quickly arranged no-strings-attached facilitation and financial help to allow our grassroots support groups to work their voluntary action miracles?
– Where is our national one minute silence to remember and show respect for our dead?
– Where is the recognition that thousands, literally thousands, of people infected by NHS contaminated blood have been killed? Are their lives of lesser value than the Grenfell 72 (or the Hillsborough 96, or the Marchioness 51, or, or, or)?

So, what do you think? Am I being paranoid or sour grapes or just jealous? Or have I missed some other critical factors, or not gone far enough in my indignation? Please say what you think, I can take it, its not like we’ve not been through plenty of tough stuff together already.”

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