Socialist Worker

Contaminated blood scandal could have been avoided

Issue No. 2686

Thousands of people were infected with contaminated blood

Thousands of people were infected with contaminated blood (Pic: Tim Sanders)


Hundreds of people affected by the contaminated blood scandal could have avoided infection had officials accepted help from Scotland, newly-released documents show.

The scandal saw thousands of people contract HIV and hepatitis after being treated with infected blood products.

A letter dated January 1990 said Scotland’s blood transfusion service could have supplied the NHS in England and Wales with the blood product Factor 8. But officials repeatedly rejected the offer.

Had they accepted, hundreds of people with haemophilia in England and Wales could have avoided devastating and sometimes fatal illnesses.

British governments in the 1970s and 1980s imported Factor 8 cheaply from the US despite repeated warnings that it was unsafe. Thousands of people were infected in Britain as a result, and scores have died.

The letter, from then director of the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service ­professor John Cash, said the service had “very substantial” spare capacity. Cash said the first offer of blood ­products was made to the NHS in England in the late 1960s, and reaffirmed in 1980-81.

Civil servants in the Scottish Office in Edinburgh, and in the Department of Health and Social Services in London, rejected the offers.

The letter was released under a Freedom of Information request made by Jason Evans, whose father died of HIV and Hepatitis C after receiving contaminated blood. Evans said the letter is significant.

“We have testimony from a very senior source which effectively shows hundreds of HIV infections could and should have been prevented,” he said.

“It fills me with horror that so many of these people would still be alive if it were not for the total negligence that took place.”

A public inquiry into the scandal in England is ongoing.


Billionaire insurance dealers have tough lives.

Andreas Pohl, the boss of the Deutche Vermoegensberatung conglomerate, bought a vintage Porsche for £390,000 in an auction.

He has since launched legal action against car dealer Coys of Kensington after claiming he was misled over its condition.


Bosses profit by picking your pocket

Some 37,000 workers in Scotland were paid less than the minimum wage last year, according to Citizens Advice Scotland (Cas).

Data from Cas also showed that bosses across Britain owed an average of £6,500 in unpaid arrears to workers.

Boris Johnson has announced a rise in the minimum wage from April.

But it will still leave workers getting much less than the real Living Wage of £9.30 an hour or £10.75 in London

Those aged 21 to 24 will have a new minimum wage of £8.20 an hour, and those 25 and over a minimum wage of £8.72.

Meanwhile bosses continue to grab more money. New research shows that top bosses get 117 times the annual wage of the average worker.

Bosses of FTSE 100 firms only needed to work until just before 5pm on Monday to make the same amount of money that an average worker earns for the entire year.

The average FTSE 100 boss got the equivalent of £901.30 an hour in 2018, or £3.46 million.


Do the Tories fear that Boris Johnson’s election victory is going to lead to riots?

The Sentencing Council published new guidelines on how to punish people convicted of public order offences in England and Wales.

The new rules were snuck in over the holidays and came into force on New Year’s Day.


Guilford Four files to be kept secret

The British government is hiding documents relating to the Guildford Four—and plans to keep them hidden for decades.

The four—Gerry Conlon, Paul Hill, Paddy Armstrong and Carole Richardson—were wrongly convicted of two pub bombings in 1974. They were released in 1989.

Paddy Hill: ‘I was taken out of prison. But prison wasn’t taken out of me’
‘I was taken out of prison. But prison wasn’t taken out of me’
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Over 700 files linked to the case were due to be released last week. They relate to an inquiry into the wrongful convictions of the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven between 1989 and 1994.

But the Home Office declared that they will remain closed.

Author Richard O’Rawe, who has written about Gerry Conlon, said, “The British government is afraid to release the files. Why? Because they will show that the evidence points to the British police knowing from the very start that the Guildford Four were completely innocent.

“What happened to the Guildford Four was no miscarriage of justice, but instead an old fashioned frame-up.”

The majority of the files are closed for either 84 or 100 years from their original date. Some may not be opened until the 2090s.


Children not ill enough for help

Children with mental health problems in England are being denied NHS help because they aren’t ill enough.

An investigation by doctor’s magazine Pulse found a third of mental health trusts only accept patients with “severe” or “significant” conditions for specialist child and adolescent mental health services.

Just one in five of the 56 facilities in England accepts referrals for children with all levels of conditions.

The number of children being referred to mental health services rose by 18 percent between 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Essex doctor Maddi Ridley said, “Children are really struggling and we don’t have a lot to offer.”


Tory housing help scam?

Government loans that allegedly help ordinary people buy homes are helping the rich to rake in more cash.

The government lends up to 20 percent of the cost of a newly-built home to buyers under the Help to Buy scheme.

Yet over 10,000 of the loans were snatched up by households with an income of over £100,000 a year. And nearly 16,000 were taken by households with an income between £80,000 and £100,000.

Meanwhile the Tories’ “starter homes” scheme for first-time buyers has collapsed. In 2015 David Cameron claimed that 200,000 new homes would be built by 2020.

Not a single one has been built.


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