'We have to wait and see' - Blood scandal victim to appear at inquiry

Contaminated blood victim, Michelle Tolley of Sparham.

Contaminated blood victim, Michelle Tolley of Sparham, who is playing a large part in the public inquiry into the scandal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

The health secretary is to attend the Infected Blood Inquiry as it continues to examine the circumstances of how thousands of people were given blood and blood products contaminated with HIV and Hepatitis C. 

Michelle Tolley, from Sparham, near Dereham, who has given evidence at the inquiry will be attending the hearing on Friday afternoon where Matt Hancock will appear.

Campaign group Factor 8 expects the health secretary to face questions over an existing support scheme that excludes bereaved families.

The grandmother and mother-of-four was 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. It was only in 2015 she was diagnosed with hepatitis C.

Matt Hancock has said the NHS is considering plans to move some hospital patients into hotels to ease pressure.

Matt Hancock will appear at the Infected Blood inquiry on Friday. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

She said she plans to wear yellow, the colour of awareness for Hepatitis C, and hopes the health secretary will see the pain families are going through.

Mrs Tolley said: "We have to wait and see. 

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"The inquiry is being led by Sir Brian Langstaff and his team and I have every faith in the inquiry that no stone will be left unturned.

"I would like to see those responsible admit liability and be held accountable for the consequences of their actions. 

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"It's terrible and it's the worst tragedy in the history of the NHS."

She said many like her were still discovering years after they had been infected and urged them to come forward, especially those who have sickle cell and thalassemia. 

Mrs Tolley said: "There still wanting people to come forward, they are still taking witness statements."

Some 4,800 people with haemophilia were infected with hepatitis C or HIV in the 1970s and 1980s. They were given contaminated blood products called Factor VIII or IX. 

In March, Penny Mordaunt, paymaster general announced changes to how those affected and their families are paid, including all bereaved partners to automatically get a £10,000 lump sum.

She also announced an "independent" reviewer would be appointed shortly to look into future compensation developments.

Mrs Tolley said victims were not given compensation but ex gratia support payment and supported calls to help bereaved widows, parents and children of infected blood victims.

Also to appear on Friday afternoon will be civil servant William Vineall, director of NHS quality, safety and investigations. 

Mrs Tolley hopes as the inquiry continues more ministers will be called to give evidence. 

Anyone affected can contact the inquiry at www.infectedbloodinquiry.org.uk

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