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Contaminated blood inquiry: Some patients used as 'guinea pigs'

A public inquiry into the infected blood scandal has been told some patients were used as "guinea pigs" at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.

The inquiry is looking at how haemophilia patients across the UK were treated with Hepatitis C infected blood or HIV in the 1970s and 1980s.

Among the correspondence presented to the inquiry this week was a letter, dated 1988, sent by Dr Elizabeth E Mayne, consultant/director at the Department of Haematology in the Royal Victoria Hospital, to Professor Ludlam at the Royal Infirmary in Scotland.

The letter was part of discussions about a potential switch between an NHS product and a commercial product, Profilate Factor 8.

Dr Mayne explained that "complications may arise with this product or indeed a safer product may become available".

She added: "I am happy for us to try this arrangement as long as the treatment of the children here and the small number of other patients is safeguarded."

She concluded "It would be interesting to see the reactions of the patients to this change over and to see if the number of units consumed is reduced."

After the letter was read into the record of the inquiry, the chairman, Sir Brian Langstaff, said: "There is also the implicit suggestion there that the patients will not have been asked in advance.

"It is going to be given to them and they wait to see what the reaction is."

Counsel to the inquiry, Jenni Richards QC, replied "Yes, there doesn't appear to have been an element of choice."

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Source: The Independent, 1 April 2021


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