Öffentliche Anhörung über kontaminierte Gerinnungspräparate beginnt in Groß Britannien
Eine privat finanzierte öffentliche Anhörung über das Schicksal von 5000 britischen Hämophilen, die mit HIV und HCV kontaminierte Gerinnungsfaktoren erhalten haben, begann heute. Zu Wort kommen sollen Betroffene und ihre Angehörigen
Contaminated NHS blood inquiry begins
Wednesday April 18, 2007
An independent public inquiry opened today into how the NHS gave thousands of haemophiliacs blood contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C.
The inquiry, led by the Labour peer Lord Archer of Sandwell, will hear evidence from patients who are now terminally ill as a result of what has been described as "the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS".
More than 4,800 haemophiliacs in Britain were infected with hepatitis C, and 1,200 of those also contracted HIV after being given contaminated blood products in the 1980s and early 1990s, and many more are terminally ill.
More than 1,700 patients have since died, although around 380 haemophiliacs and 20 other patients given contaminated transfusions during surgery are still alive.
The inquiry's remit is to investigate the circumstances surrounding the supply of contaminated blood products, examine its impact on haemophilia patients, and to recommend steps to help those affected and relatives of those who have already died.
But Lord Archer, a former solicitor general, said the inquiry was not expected to examine the treatment of individual patients or examine the role played by particular doctors or hospitals.
The first full hearing of the inquiry today comes after the BBC's Newsnight programme reported that the Department of Health ignored warnings about using haemophiliacs to test new blood products.
Haemophilia is a blood condition in which an essential clotting factor is either partly or completely missing, which can lead to serious internal bleeding. Newsnight reported that many haemophiliacs became infected from supplies of the clotting agent Factor 8 from abroad and, unknown to them at the time, much of the plasma came from donors such as prison inmates in the US who were allowed to sell their blood even though there were questions about their health.
The programme said many official documents had "mysteriously disappeared", although the government claimed some were shredded and others had not been released on grounds of commercial confidentiality.
One of the "most shocking" documents was a letter from the head of Britain's public health surveillance centre warning the Department of Health that some Factor 8 supplies could be contaminated with HIV. Despite this, Factor 8 imports continued to be used.
Some haemophiliacs also told the programme that they were convinced they were used as medical guinea pigs without their knowledge or consent.
In some cases, even when those tests showed they were HIV positive, the patients themselves were not told for several years.
Lord Morris of Manchester, a former minister for the disabled who has campaigned for years on behalf of the victims of this "tragedy" and their families, said the opening of the inquiry was a "historic" day for the haemophilia community.
Previous governments had all, he claimed, "resolutely resisted" calls for a public inquiry.
Lord Morris, who is also president of the Haemophilia Society, said: "For the first time the voices of the victims which have so far gone unheard, will be heard.
"All previous inquiries have been held behind closed doors at the Department of Health. Now, the people who know most about this tragedy, the victims, will be able to speak out."
About 6,000 people have haemophilia in the UK.