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Can Ken Clarke provide justice sought by UK’s ignored haemophiliacs?

Haemophiliacs will tomorrow deliver wreaths to the doorstep of 10 Downing Street and the Department of Health to seek justice from the new coalition government over the use of contaminated blood by the NHS 30 years ago which has led to the deaths of 2,000 people who were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C. It is estimated that 4,700 people were infected in the last three decades.

I first  wrote about the plight of haemophiliacs four months ago after bumping into their campaigners in Westminster’s central lobby when they were meeting with MPs. They now hope to gain the support of Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, who was Health Secretary at the time when patients were unknowingly infected with contaminated blood, imported from the USA. BBC Science journalist Susan Watts has done a tremendous job in plugging their plight.

The eminent medic Lord Winston describes this as “the worst medical treatment disaster in the history of the NHS”.  Campaigners refer to this largely avoidable tragedy as the “haemophilia holocaust” in recognition of the destroyed lives of a generation of people with this hereditary bleeding disorder. It’s really too awful to fully comprehend that this really happened. If it had happened today, would it be allowed to be ignored in the same way?

These families deserve justice and answers to questions about what happened, and why. Imagine if it was someone you loved you had been infected this way, and their life had been destroyed after they had placed their faith in the NHS treatment they needed to recover from an illness, but instead, inadvertently, signed their own death warrant.

I hope Ken Clarke listens – and meets with the Contaminated Blood Campaign Coalition – and that he uses his new influential position to give them the justice they deserve.

Do watch this compelling video the action group has made which features Lord Owen and Ken Clarke.



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