Norfolk mother tells national contaminated blood inquiry she was ‘betrayed’ by GP

Michelle Tolley speaking at the Infected Blood Inquiry in London. Photo: Infected Blood Inquiry

Michelle Tolley speaking at the Infected Blood Inquiry in London. Photo: Infected Blood Inquiry - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk mother given infected blood felt 'betrayed' by her doctor after he refused to test her for hepatitis C, an inquiry heard.

Michelle Tolley, from Sparham, told the Infected Blood Inquiry that she had been given a blood transfusion for a haemorrhage after giving birth to her first child in 1987, and another during an emergency caesarean section when having twins in 1991.

The mother-of-four said on Tuesday that after hearing about infected blood on the television she went to her GP and asked to be tested.

Mrs Tolley, 54, said that at the time she had felt "really, really tired", but had thought it could have been because she had four children.

She told the inquiry she had been sent away and made to feel like a "silly little girl".

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She said: "I went to see him, explained I was exhausted, absolutely exhausted, and that I had had two separate blood transfusions before the bloods were screened.

"He said to me 'Well you will be tired, you've got four young children, I don't know what you expect, and as to the blood test, don't be silly, you won't have that' - and that was it.

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"He made me feel like a silly little girl and as a young mum you look to the professionals, you trust them.

"I believed him and off I went."

But Mrs Tolley said she was eventually diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2015, 28 years after her first transfusion.

She told the inquiry she was hysterical after she found out, and added: "I was terrible, I literally almost collapsed to the floor.

"I was like a hysterical little child, because every time I shut my eyes there was a coffin."

Mrs Tolley said that she became withdrawn, then began to feel "dirty" and angry.

She added: "Then I got really angry, and I mean furiously angry.

"I had to have the blood, I had to have it or I'd have haemorrhaged further and died.

"But it was the GP, that GP that had that opportunity to give me a simple test.

"I felt let down, I felt betrayed, and it's left me with a huge distrust of medical hospitals."

Mrs Tolley, who used to work as a learning support assistant at a school, said she was angry about the missed opportunities to diagnose her.

She said that if the initial GP had got her tested she would not have ended up with the health problems she has today.

She added: "I'm still angry that there was hepatitis C in the blood and you know I'm really furious about that.

"But it would only have been seven or eight years if he'd [the GP] given me that test.

"I wouldn't have ended up with the amount of health issues that I've got now, that stole my life."

The inquiry heard Mrs Tolley was given treatment for hepatitis C in 2016 and 2017 and that it was now undetectable.

But she said she has been medically retired and has to go for six-monthly scans to check the condition of her liver.

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