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  1. ITV Report

Contaminated blood inquiry re-opens as victims fight on

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Rachel Hepworth

A man who was given infected blood in the 1980's, in what's been described as the biggest scandal in the history of the NHS, says it has destroyed his life, but continues to fight on.

It is thought up to 30,000 people were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C from contaminated blood products from the 1970s to the 1990s.

The inquiry into the scandal re-opened on Monday (24th) in London. This week the inquiry is hearing from experts in public health about the psychological impact on victims and their families.

Gary Webster from Eastleigh in Hampshire was a child with haemophilia when he had been given a blood product called Factor 8. It is made from cheaper, imported plasma which had not been properly screened.

As a child with haemophilia, he was sent to the specialist Treloars School in Alton. He was one of 89 pupils from the school that had been given infected blood. In 1983, aged 17, was told he was HIV positive.

As a result, all but 18 of the 89 have since died.

You've been infected. You've probably got two years to live. That was it - and then it started getting bad when people started getting ill, they'd go down with a virus - then its 'oh where's so-and-so?'. He'd go off to the hospital and never come back. All you saw on the telly if you remember at that time in 83 was the tombstones, and Rock Hudson and all this. And you've got boys of 10 to 16, 17 saying 'that's me'. It destroyed us I think - because what do you do? Relationships, friends - if you tell anyone. At that time the stigma was very bad. I did silly things - I tried to commit suicide, but you have to live your life I think and fight on, and now the inquiry is there we have a purpose. We want to fight and find out why this happened and make sure it doesn't happen again."

– Gary Webster, Blood scandal victim

The scandal has blighted Gary's health, but he refuses to be defined by it, saying the bond with his remaining school friends is a strong one.

He says: "I don't think I'd be here now if it wasn't for them. You've stopped going to funerals - because its too much - what keeps you going? Steven, my mate - he died when he was 23 - and I do it for him, and the others. This isn't about compensation, this is about supporting people who have lost their livelihood due to this - and their lives - their homes. They've lost everything."

Peter Wratten was among thousands of patients given contaminated blood during the 1970s and 80s.

In Kent, Peter Wratten was also among thousands of patients given contaminated blood during the 1970s and 80s.

He died in 2011, at the age of 54.

After his death, Peter's son Tim joined forces with the families of other victims of the contaminated blood scandal.

He's calling for the truth to come out, and support for those still living with the consequences of their treatment.

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Malcolm Shaw

My dad, he was quite a private person and nobody knew what was wrong with him. So for me, I said 'no I'm not going to stand and have that'. I thought 'this was wrong'. So I thought I'm going to speak up, and between us and a lot of others we campaigned and we went to a lot of protests."

– Tim Wratten
Credit: ITV Meridian
  • THE INFECTED BLOOD INQUIRY

It has been called one of the worst disasters in the history of the NHS, claiming 2500 lives and affecting many more.

A public inquiry opened up in April 2019. It's expected to take up to three years to complete.

Victim support groups estimate between 250 and 300 more of those affected will not live to see its conclusions.