Workington man given infected blood during leukaemia treatment calls for compensation

Stuart Hall said he is "extremely angry" about what he has heard during the course of the inquiry. Credit: ITV Border

A man who was given infected blood during treatment for leukaemia says living with the consequences of an infected blood transfusion is "like a life sentence".

Stuart Hall, from Stainburn, near Workington, spent his 18th birthday in 1984 on a hospital ward fighting cancer. During his treatment, he was given multiple blood transfusions.

In 1995, Mr Hall was informed that one of the samples he had received had been contaminated with hepatitis C, a virus that can seriously damage the liver.

It led to diagnoses of diabetes and, eventually, liver cancer.

Mr Hall told ITV Border he was still paying the price for his treatment - and said he wants government compensation.

"I'd spent years going through treatment for leukaemia and then I had ten years of regular checkups for blood tests to make sure that the cancer hasn't come back," he explained.

"And just as I was getting to the tail end of all those checks and all that monitoring, then a letter arrived to tell me I might be infected with a virus.

Stuart spent his 18th birthday being treated for leukaemia when he was given a sample of contaminated blood. Credit: Stuart Hall

"It can lead to serious liver damage and liver cirrhosis and liver cancer and possibly death. And I lived with that for 30 years. It takes a mental toll. It's it's like a life sentence."

What is the infected blood inquiry?

During the 1970s and 1980s, more than 30,000 people in the UK were given treatments infected with HIV and Hepatitis C.

The final report by the government's inquiry was published today (Monday 20 May 2024). It is one of the largest public inquiries in UK history.

What are the key findings from the report?

  • The disaster was not an accident, it could have been avoided and should have been

  • The risks around the blood products were known about decades before most patients were treated

  • The main responsibility for the failings lies with successive governments, who "showed little interest in finding the truth."

  • Patients were tested without their knowledge or consent and were not informed of the result, sometimes for years, leading many to unknowingly infected loved ones

  • Some people, including children, were "betrayed" by being used in medical trials without their knowledge

  • Key documents about the scandal were destroyed because "the documents contained material dealing with delays in the UK to the introduction of screening of blood donations for Hepatitis C."

  • There was a "doctor knows best" attitude with treatments going ahead without question

In 2022, the inquiry's chairman, Sir Brian Langstaff, recommended that compensation of £100,000 should be payed to those who received infected blood or to the partners of those who died as a result of it.

Stuart was given a liver transplant in 2021 and now lives happily with his wife at home.

He said when it comes to compensation, the government is "kicking the can down the road", adding: "People would say to me: 'are you going to sue?' But why would I sue the hospital when they were looking after me and treating me for a life-threatening illness?

"At that point, I was totally unaware of the knowledge that the government and the medical profession had that there was potentially a high risk of blood donations having the virus within it."It makes me extremely angry. When you think that how much it's affected my life over the last almost 30 years - it's just ridiculous. It's absolutely scandalous."

ITV Border reporter Kieran Macfadzean speaks to infected blood victim Stuart Hall about his hopes for compensation

"I hope the government will issue a formal apology to everyone," he continued.

"I hope they will get on and finally deal with the compensation. I think they are dragging their heels.

"I think they were trying to kick the can as far down the road as they could possibly kick it because the bill for this is potentially huge."

A spokesperson for the UK Government said: "This was an appalling tragedy that never should have happened. We are clear that justice needs to be done, and swiftly.

"This includes establishing a new body to deliver an Infected Blood Compensation Scheme, it will have all the funding needed to deliver compensation once they have identified the victims and assessed claims.

"We will continue to listen carefully to the community as we address this dreadful scandal."

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