Norfolk grandmother prepares to give evidence at Infected Blood Inquiry

Contaminated blood victim, Michelle Tolley of Sparham, who is playing a large part in the public inq

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

A Norfolk victim of the contaminated blood scandal has said her role in supporting others is giving her confidence to give evidence next week.

The contaminated blood scandal has been labelled the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

Thousands of patients were infected with HIV and hepatitis C via contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

And a public inquiry into the use of the products started taking evidence in central London on Tuesday.

Two previous inquiries have been branded a whitewash by campaigners.

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Michelle Tolley, from Sparham, runs the Contaminated Whole Blood UK Facebook page and gave an opening statement to the Infected Blood Inquiry when it opened last year.

But next week she will tell her story and give evidence to former High Court judge Sir Brian Langstaff in a bid for justice.

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Grandmother Mrs Tolley, 53, was one of thousands of people who were given blood products infected with hepatitis viruses and HIV.

She had two blood transfusions in September 1987 and February 1991 after childbirth and although she went to her GP after seeing warnings about blood transfusions, her concerns were dismissed. It was only in 2015 she was diagnosed with hepatitis C by chance.

Previously she said: 'I used to think I was useless, I've let people down, what's the point of me getting out of bed? So as much as I help the group, the group actually helps me.'

And now she said it is this support - and the support she gives to others - which will help her on Tuesday.

'It's been harrowing listening to the evidence,' she said. 'I was sitting with tears just streaming down my eyes. But I can't stress at the moment how I think the inquiry team are really for the people.'

Sir Brian has promised to put people at the heart of the probe and said the inquiry would be 'frightened of no-one'.

Mrs Tolley said: 'Although I run that support group it does me a favour because they help me, because I feel needed.'

Mrs Tolley said she was still suffering the impact of her transfusions today, even though she has now had no trace of the hepatitis C virus in her blood for two years.

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