Humberside

Hull blood contamination victim wants hepatitis C inquiry

Glenn Wilkinson
Image caption Glenn Wilkinson said victims infected by contaminated blood need answers and a full apology

A Hull man with haemophilia is calling for an inquiry into how NHS patients were infected by contaminated blood during the 1970s and 80s.

Glenn Wilkinson, 47, was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1983 after a routine operation to remove two teeth at Hull Royal Infirmary.

He is one of a number of people pressing for a full judicial inquiry.

About 4,300 people in the UK, mainly haemophiliacs, were infected with contaminated blood in the 70s and 80s.

Mr Wilkinson, who is fighting for compensation, has launched a campaign to highlight the plight of thousands of similar victims.

The Labour MP for Hull North, Diana Johnson, is backing the campaign and is due to raise the issue in the House of Commons later.

Mr Wilkinson, who is married with two children, said the illness had "devastated" his life and he had "a terrific fear of passing the virus on to family members".

'Full apology'

He hoped a full judicial inquiry would "draw a conclusion to what we've had to suffer for decades".

He said: "An apology and recognition of what's happened to us would mean everything.

"We need a full judicial inquiry. Enquiries have taken place in the past but they haven't had all the power of law that a full judicial inquiry would have. So we need that. We need answers.

"We need the government to accept that what they did was wrong and we need an apology."

An independent public inquiry into the matter was held in 2007, led by Lord Archer. The findings were published in a report in 2009, which called it an "horrific human tragedy". It said UK authorities had been slow to react but accepted it was hard to directly apportion blame.

Lord Archer concluded the main responsibility for the tragedy rested with the US suppliers of the contaminated blood products.

'Extra support'

Since the early 1980s the government rejected calls for a full inquiry and refused to admit any fault, claiming the treatments were given "in good faith".

However, after a 20-year fight by campaigners, payments of varying amounts were given to people in 2004.

Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: "In January 2010, the government announced a package of measures to improve the support that was already in place for those affected with HIV and/or hepatitis C by contaminated NHS supplied blood and blood products."

"One of the key decisions was that payments for those who are most seriously affected by hepatitis C infection would be significantly improved."

In January 2011, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced extra financial support.

The campaign led by Mr Wilkinson claims a similar situation could happen in the future unless there is an inquiry.

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