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Patients were treated with infected blood

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‘A VERY low number’ of Jersey patients received infected NHS blood in what was described as the ‘worst treatment scandal’ in the organisation’s history, the Island’s Health Minister has confirmed.

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Deputy Richard Renouf said this week that a ‘minority of batches of treatment’ relating to haemophilia patients in Jersey ‘were subsequently shown to be affected’. He was responding to a question from Deputy Inna Gardiner.

An Infected Blood Inquiry has been launched in the UK and is looking at why 4,800 people with haemophilia were infected with hepatitis C or HIV in the 1970s and 1980s after being given blood from donors.

In response to the Deputy’s question, Deputy Renouf said: ‘In the UK the majority of patients who became infected with the blood-borne viruses hepatitis B, hepatitis C and/or HIV did so between 1965 and 1992.

‘The majority of those patients were infected via elements of donor blood used to treat the often severe bleeding disorder termed haemophilia.

‘The situation in Jersey for haemophilia patients mirrored that of the UK, as the Island shared with the UK the only readily available treatment for serious bleeding in patients with haemophilia. A minority of batches of treatment were subsequently shown to have been infected.’

He added: ‘Obstacles to haemophilia patients securing redress in the past included difficulty in establishing which batch of haemophilia treatment was responsible for infection out of hundreds or thousands of batches used to treat an individual over 20-plus years, plus the issue that the primary sources of infected material used by both UK and Jersey patients held Crown Immunity at the relevant time.

‘In these circumstances in 2004 the UK NHS set up a scheme termed the Skipton Fund to provide one-off or recurring payments to patients infected with hepatitis C.

‘Whether this compensation mechanism was appropriate or sufficient are aspects that the current UK Infected Blood Inquiry will consider. My department will of course give careful consideration to the eventual outcome(s) of the continuing UK public inquiry.’

The Health Minister said neither the number of individual Jersey Skipton Fund claimants nor the number of haemophilia patients infected through their treatment had been recorded centrally in Jersey.

However, he did say that ‘medical staff in Jersey have assisted a number of Jersey haemophilia patients in securing payments from the NHS-linked Skipton Fund’.

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
author

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