Family welcomes hepatitis inquiry

The family of a man who died of hepatitis contracted from an infected blood transfusion last night welcomed the announcement that there would be an independent public inquiry into how NHS blood supplies became contaminated.

The family of a man who died of hepatitis contracted from an infected blood transfusion last night welcomed the announcement that there would be an independent public inquiry into how NHS blood supplies became contaminated.

Former Solicitor General, Labour peer Lord Archer of Sandwell, is to conduct the inquiry after a campaign by Lord Morris of Manchester, the ex-minister for the disabled, who said that 1,757 haemophilia patients, who were exposed to HIV and/or hepatitis C contaminated NHS blood and blood products had died since being infected.

Many more who were not haemophilia sufferers are also believed to have become infected. Wisbech businessman Stuart Oliver, 47, died months after he was diagnosed with hepatitis in late 2004. Doctors believe he contracted the disease from blood he was given during routine surgery at Peterborough Hospital, in 1989.

Last week Dame Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop empire, revealed she had contracted hepatitis C during a routine transfusion three decades ago and had not found out until a routine blood test two years ago.

But last night his daughter Kerry said: “It will be a start if the government admits that the whole process was flawed. It didn't pick up my father, it didn't pick up Anita Roddick and there are thousands of people out there who are infected and they don't even know about it.”

An EDP investigation later revealed the NHS took more than 15 years to warn some people they could be affected, while others were never told.

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Lord Archer's terms of reference are to “investigate the circumstances surrounding the supply to patients of contaminated NHS blood and blood products; its consequences for the haemophilia community and others afflicted; and further steps to address both their problems and needs and those of bereaved families'. He said the inquiry would formally open in four weeks' time.