'That means nothing to me, I want my health'- North East victims of blood scandal respond to payout

Victims and their families across the North East have said somebody needs to be held accountable. Credit: Family photos

North East victims of the contaminated blood scandal have said Government payouts do not go far enough to compensate for what they have been through.

It was announced on Wednesday 17 August that the Government is offering money to people who were infected with contaminated blood during the 1970s and 1980s.

The interim payments of up to £100,000 are for victims and their bereaved spouses.

Mark Fox from Seaham was infected with hepatitis C as a child after being treated for haemophilia, a hereditary disease which means a person's blood does not clot in the way it normally would.

“£100,000? That means nothing to me, I want my health," he said.

“They poisoned my body and destroyed me and potentially killed me before my time and killed a lot of people I know. They need to be accountable.

“I guess it will help some financially, but what about the ones that have died, what about their families? What about their parents? No parent should ever have to outlive their child."

The injections that Mr Fox received contained contaminated blood.

“It’s the biggest scandal for a long, long time," he added.

“This inquiry has a long way to go and until they acknowledge it properly. 

“Once they’ve done an acknowledgement then they need to look at compensation.

"This compensation has to be passed to every family, not just ones like me who’ve been infected, it has to be people who have been affected. 

“Parents who’ve lost kids, kids who’ve lost parents- they’ve gone through hell as well.

"They’ve lost people that should have never lost for another 30 or 40 years, someone has to be accountable for that."

Mark Fox says someone needs to be held accountable. Credit: Family photo

Mr Fox has endured a lifetime of serious health issues after being infected with hepatitis C, as well as suffering from depression and anxiety.

He said his illness had prevented him from getting life insurance and even getting jobs.

Mr Fox said: “It’s the way people look at you knowing, when people find out. 

“I know it’s education and people aren’t medical experts, but same here. I thought hepatitis C was HIV when I first found out and that’s what people look at straight away.

“They ostracise you and think it’s something that it's not."

He added: "You can have all the money in the world but if you haven’t got your health, you’ve got nothing. 

“I’ve had dreams about it. Just to be healthy I think is the dream."

Emma Weatheritt and her dad Jeffrey Frane. Credit: Family Photo

Emma Weatheritt’s dad, Jeffrey Frane, was infected with HIV after receiving treatment for his haemophilia. He died in 1991 aged 39. 

Ms Weatheritt, from South Shields, said: “They need to admit that they were wrong, that this was preventable and I would like somebody to say sorry for my dad’s death.”

“I’m 49, my dad was 39 when he died so if I look at a picture of my dad, I look at someone who is younger than me whose life was stolen away from them. 

“Decades later, I still suffer from it. I have a 21-year-old son, it affects him massively. He never knew his grandad.

“The suffering for everybody involved has gone on for decades."

Emma Weatheritt said her dad's life was "stolen away". Credit: Family Photo

Ms Weatheritt added: “My father died 31 years ago, on the 15th of August and I don’t get anything. I’m not allowed to sign on to any scheme. 

“My mum is still alive, she isn’t one of the widows on any of the schemes so at this moment in time we don't get anything which begs the question of, my dad, did his life not matter?

“It would be far better if the government just accept that this is something that should have never ever happened and pay full compensation to everybody now rather than making those still suffer for longer. 

“£100,000 seems a lot, but that’s nothing if you’ve lived through this for almost 40 years.”

Carol Grayson said losing her husband "was utterly devastating for the family". Credit: Family photo

Carol Grayson, from Jesmond, in Newcastle, lost both her husband and brother-in-law to the scandal. 

Her husband, Peter Longstaff, was infected with HIV, Hepatitis B and C and exposed to variant CJD also known as 'mad cow disease'.

His younger brother also died of AIDS from infected blood in 1986.

Ms Grayson said: “It was utterly devastating for the family.

“It’s very bittersweet today because obviously I’ve lost my husband and that never goes away.

“Not everyone has been included in today’s interim payments, so there are still two groups of people, the parents of haemophiliacs and the children that are not down to have this interim payment."

Carol Grayson said the Government needs "to look at blood safety going forward and to learn from the mistakes that were made". Credit: Family photo

Ms Grayson said the scandal has had a wider impact than just the victims.

She said: “Haemophilia is hereditary and it runs in families. The tragedy is in some families you’ve got four in five sons all infected with multiple viruses. 

“Some infected haemophiliacs then went on to infect their wives and some infected their children. So it’s been utterly devastating. 

“Pete and I couldn’t have children in case we infected the children. So every aspect of our lives was affected.”

Ms Grayson said although someone needs to be held accountable it may have taken too long to take any legal action.

She said: “This has been going on so long that the people who should have been prosecuted aren’t around anymore, so there’s actually very few people that you could hold, fully, to account. 

"They also need to look at blood safety going forward and to learn from the mistakes that were made.

"The interim payment is just the start. 

"What hopefully will happen is there will be individual assessments of all the infected people and all their family members who have been affected and that will look at things like loss of earnings, physical damage, psychological damage."

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