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Blood Trail (UK): Lord Owen Demands Inquiry into Infected Blood Scandal
UK Guardian ^ | 02/08/19 | James Meikle

Posted on 08/19/2002 8:45:16 AM PDT by BLOODHOUND (askel5)

Owen demands inquiry into infected blood scandal

James Meikle, health correspondent
Monday August 19, 2002
The Guardian

Lord Owen, who was a Labour health minister from 1974 to 1976, has alleged that maladministration by his former department contributed to the scandal in which thousands of patients became infected by contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 80s.

He wants an inquiry into how a promise he made that Britain would be self-sufficient in supplies of clotting factors was not fulfilled and says the government must compensate thousands of people suffering from haemophilia believed to be infected with hepatitis C.

The former SDP leader, who has asked the health service ombudsman for England to investigate, told the Guardian: "The basic justice and fairness of this is so strong the government will have to crack."

The then Dr David Owen told the House of Commons in January 1975 that he wanted the NHS to be "self-sufficient as soon as practicable" in the production of blood clotting factors to "stop us being dependent on imports". He says now that he did not spell out worries about contamination, particularly of blood from paid donors in countries such as the US, because he could not undermine public confidence.

Lord Owen's intervention comes as activist groups representing haemophiliacs and hepatitis C sufferers appeal to the police to consider a criminal prosecution of British governments over the past 30 years. Terence Grange, chief constable of Dyfed-Powys, acting on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers, has told one group, Haemophilia North, that he is contacting the crown prosecution service "with a view to seeking clarification as to the issues we must consider prior to considering any investigation".

At least 2,800 haemophiliacs are thought to be infected with hepatitis C, and the national Haemophilia Society has demanded a £522m 10-year compensation deal.

The Department of Health said yesterday that "initial checks" on departmental papers revealed £500,000 had been spent trying to achieve self-sufficiency but this had not been enough to meet demand: "Ministers have asked that all the papers from that period are looked at. These findings will be shared with Lord Owen."

Treatment for viruses was introduced as soon as the technology was available in the mid-1980s, according to the department, although a test for hepatitis C in donated blood was not available until 1991.

Lord Owen first complained on behalf of a constituent to the ombudsman's predecessor, the parliamentary commissioner for administration, in 1988. He was then MP for Plymouth Devonport. He said health officials should have admitted to subsequent ministers that the target of self-sufficiency could not be met without more money. But the commissioner would not investigate, saying that parliamentary answers Dr Owen had given in 1975 did not suggest the risk of contamination had been a major factor.

Lord Owen said that in 1988 he had been unable to give evidence of his personal view that the source of donors was unreliable because his private office papers had "for some inexplicable reason been pulped". But the decision for self-sufficiency was never made only to save money.

People who caught HIV through contaminated blood products were compensated. Lord Owen said it was no excuse that hepatitis C, which over several years can cause serious liver damage and cancer, was not a known infection when he made the promise.

"They did not know at the time about HIV," he said. "It just seems to me too mean for words. You knew that virus illnesses could not be picked up in tests and they might therefore still contaminate. I am not arguing a conspiracy. I tend to favour the foul-up theory of life."

He wants a no-fault compensation scheme. "I have no wish to go to court, but I have no doubt whatsoever that if someone starts to take serious legal action, the government hasn't got a leg to stand on."

TOPICS: Breaking News; Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: aids; bloodtrail; haemophilia; hemophilia; hepatitisc; hepc; hiv; lordowen; taintedblood

1 posted on 08/19/2002 8:45:16 AM PDT by BLOODHOUND (askel5)
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To: BLOODHOUND (askel5)
See also, Blood Trail (UK): Criminal Probe into Bad Blood Considered (8/14/02).
2 posted on 08/19/2002 8:46:03 AM PDT by BLOODHOUND (askel5)
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To: BLOODHOUND (askel5)
See also, Blood Trail (UK Ireland): Medical Council Launches Blood Probe (8/12/02;
3 posted on 08/19/2002 8:51:43 AM PDT by BLOODHOUND (askel5)
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To: BLOODHOUND (askel5)
Thank you for your admirable persistence.
4 posted on 08/19/2002 8:51:53 AM PDT by Carry_Okie
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To: BLOODHOUND (askel5)
See also, Blood Trail (UK): Politicians May Face Charges over Infected Blood (Sunday Express, 8/18/02)
5 posted on 08/19/2002 9:05:01 AM PDT by BLOODHOUND (askel5)
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To: Carry_Okie
Hey guy ... how'd it go this weekend?

(Will you freepmail your site address to askel5? I'm long overdue obtaining your book.)

6 posted on 08/19/2002 9:06:47 AM PDT by BLOODHOUND (askel5)
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To: BLOODHOUND (askel5)
Bump for the trail of tainted blood. . .
7 posted on 08/19/2002 9:16:29 AM PDT by cricket
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To: cricket
Thanks Cricket ...

Meanwhile, back at the headwaters of tainted blood (including, especially, the State of Louisiana who -- along with worst-case scenairio Arkansas -- pumped prisoner plasma through 1994) ...

The CDC ignores the Old News of tainted blood and focuses attention on the 'Merican Peoples' crisis du jour: Blood Trail (US): CDC Team Gauges Risk of West Nile Spread Via Blood (Reuters)

It's almost as if they think we're stupid or sumpin'.

8 posted on 08/19/2002 9:20:20 AM PDT by BLOODHOUND (askel5)
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To: BLOODHOUND (askel5)
See also, Blood Trail (UK): Plan For Using US Blood Sparks New Fear (BSE, vCJD) (The Journal, 8/17/02)

And understandably so.

If we had a free press or if our ministers had been prosecuted (as has happened and may be happening in nations such as Franch, Japan, Canada and Britain) perhaps Ignorant Americans would understand why.

9 posted on 08/19/2002 9:30:14 AM PDT by BLOODHOUND (askel5)
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To: BLOODHOUND (askel5)
Related story ... teeing the ball above.

British blood too risky for our children

by JENNY HOPE, Daily Mail - 17th August 2002

Hospitals are to import U. S. blood supplies to ensure children under six are not infected with the human form of mad cow disease. The news deepened concern over the safety of British blood transfusions for other age groups. It follows research suggesting that the agent which causes variant Creutzfeldt- Jakob Disease ( vCJD) is transmitted more easily than had been thought.

Children born since 1995 will get the extra protection, throughout their lives, because they are young enough not to have been exposed to the infection in any other way, such as eating meat contaminated with BSE. Older children and adults will have to rely on existing safety measures. When a similar move was announced in Scotland last month, in a direct response to the research, health chiefs admitted they would like all patients to have 'lower risk' blood. But there is a shortage of supplies from 'safe' countries and serious cost implications in importing blood for all patients.

The National Blood Service said fresh frozen plasma for all newborn babies and young children will now be obtained from the U.S. The cost will rise year on year as more children qualify. Blood for transfusions already has the white cells removed because they are thought of as Experts on ACRE, the Government's Advisory Commitpotentially the most dangerous carriers of vCJD. But recent experiments with animals have suggested that plasma - the liquid component - and red cells might also be routes for infection.

Plasma is given to premature babies, babies and children having heart surgery or liver transplants and those who have suffered major injuries. Since 1998, plasma has been imported from the U.S. to make blood products such as clotting factors, which are used to treat haemophiliacs.

The U.S. plasma for children will come from single units given by unpaid donors rather than pooled supplies. This will make it easier to trace the source if necessary and ensure that one infected donor cannot contaminate a large number of units.

Unpaid donors are seen as safer, as there are fears that payments for blood attract donors from groups with a higher risk of infections.

The plasma decision was welcomed by Frances Hall, who runs the Human BSE Foundation Helpline. But she said there should be safer supplies for all transfusion recipients. 'This is a first step, but it should be extended and sooner rather than later,' she said.

'The experiments with sheep have raised new concerns because humans are closer in disease patterns to sheep than cows and it seems a distinct possibility that blood could be infected. 'The main problem is getting supplies that are safer, because the disease appears to be cropping up everywhere.' Mrs Hall and her husband Derek lost their 20-year-old son Peter to vCJD in February

Scottish health chiefs have already gone further than those south of the border, by deciding that transfusions will be given only in life-or-death situations. The Scottish Blood Transfusion Service is preparing to reduce transfusions by ten per cent - 10,000 fewer a year. It will mean an end to 'pick-me-up' transfusions, where patients - many of them elderly - are given blood to help them recover after operations and to ease the effects of debilitating conditions such as ulcers.

There is currently no way of screening blood for vCJD and the disease is diagnosed only when a patient becomes ill and shows the symptoms.

So far, there is no evidence that anyone infected with vCJD has passed it on through a transfusion.

But tests on animals reported in the Journal of General Virology two weeks ago showed that one in six given blood from infected sheep appeared to have developed the disease. Official figures show there have been 122 confirmed cases of vCJD in the UK, six in France, one in Ireland, one in Italy and one in the U.S.

Public health minister Hazel Blears said last night: 'The safety of blood and blood products used in the NHS is of paramount importance and every reasonable step is taken to minimise any risks during blood transfusion. 'It is never possible to guarantee 100 per cent safety, but we will continue to take advice from our expert committees.'

10 posted on 08/19/2002 9:41:10 AM PDT by BLOODHOUND (askel5)
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To: BLOODHOUND (askel5); Askel5; BigM; Wallaby; Budge; T'wit; Great Dane; CholeraJoe; Lise; ...
Heads up. Trust all is well with everyone.
11 posted on 08/19/2002 9:45:45 AM PDT by Askel5
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To: backhoe
I'm sorry to hear your wife is sick.

May save you some time to send just this one link ... all of today's posts are linked within ... =)

Trust things settle down soon. Thanks again for all your good efforts ... very much appreciated.

12 posted on 08/19/2002 10:51:32 AM PDT by Askel5
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To: Askel5
Appreciate the thoughtful words- I sent all those new links off about 1:00 PM... we'll see what happens.
13 posted on 08/19/2002 1:36:35 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: backhoe
Oh, dear. I hadn't heard your wife is sick. I am so sorry. I hope everything will be okay. Prayers going up. Please ping me if you update on her condition. Ok?
14 posted on 08/19/2002 3:28:21 PM PDT by JudyB1938
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To: JudyB1938
Hi. Judy... we are working on finding what the problem is, and it seems to be a confluence of several things...

1- her neck fusion from last August was causing muscle spasms... that's getting under control.
2- she had 3 teeth abcess- pulled the worst one.
3- she's had the flu.
4- and her Doc is running some tests to see if thyroid or something else is causing the shakes.

We will hopefully get to the bottom of it all soon- your kind wishes are appreciated.

Oddly, seeing your reply earlier reminded me of something from "the vault of old memories long forgotten"-- when my late first wife went to Duke for her second bout with the Big C, the first question all the Docs, all the nurses, and all the technicians asked was "have you ever given blood?"

Seems they had an internal theory that you are born with a certain, limited amount of "immune factor" to cancer, and that if you gave much blood, you depleted it!

Years later, I asked "more modern" doctors about this theory, and they had never heard of it.

15 posted on 08/19/2002 3:46:57 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: backhoe
My goodness. What a display of different problems, any one of which would make one REALLY feel bad. Poor thing. I hope she gets some relief soon.

Your comment about GIVING blood is very interesting. I'll tell you something, the old timers knew a whole lot more than modern doctors by instinct alone. Today, doctors rely on technolgy and tests to make their diagnosis. I miss the old ways.
16 posted on 08/19/2002 3:51:59 PM PDT by JudyB1938
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To: JudyB1938
Thanks- we are trying to help Emily... one little problem is she's pig-headed, and was sick about 2 weeks before letting on. Our "new" family doc is a friend of hers from her old choir, and she is trying hard.

My first family doctor was Ira Gladstone Towson... and he was also my Godfather.

Ira was a field surgeon in the WWI (!) American Expeditionary Force, and he could do a physical, ask about 10 pointed questions, and give you a diagnosis you could take to the bank. When he was trained, there weren't many tests available, so you had to be a really sharp diagnostician just based on what the patient presented. I wish the new docs were still trained like that- they seem helpless without a ton of machinery to aid them.

Pardon any typos or incoherencies- the dog's squeaky-ball just died & I have to restore it to making racket, or she will howl, mourn, and be morose all night...

17 posted on 08/19/2002 4:29:45 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: backhoe
One of my daughters is a doctor. She gets so mad at me when I talk like this. Because of all the technology and more knowledge about certain things, she believes that doctors are more effective and efficient than they have ever been. I told her she is not old enough to know the difference between then and now. I finally have to drop it, because she can out-talk me - both in words and in loudness. LOL

She does have a point though ... she says that, on a whole, people live longer and healthier lives than they used to.

My great-grandfather was a doctor in the days when people out west could practice medicine without a license. "Real" doctors used to send patients to him for diagnosis when they couldn't figure out what was wrong. Some people have it, and some people don't. Like my g-grandfather and your godfather. I kinda think it's a lost art now.

Tell Emily that if she doesn't keep up the good work that you'll lock her in the bedroom, alone with the dog, but without the squeaky toy. :0)
18 posted on 08/19/2002 7:06:57 PM PDT by JudyB1938
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To: BLOODHOUND (askel5)
Memo to Lord OWEN.

SHORTCUT on BLOOD TRAIL. Take cab to downtown Harlem. Knock on big door that says, "BILL CLINTON". End of trail.
19 posted on 08/20/2002 2:24:03 AM PDT by UCANSEE2
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To: BLOODHOUND (askel5)
thanks friend!
20 posted on 08/20/2002 6:20:33 AM PDT by Scholastic
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