NI victims of infected blood scandal urged to come forward

More than 2,000 people may have died due to the tainted blood
More than 2,000 people may have died due to the tainted blood

Northern Ireland victims of a scandal that saw thousands develop illnesses such as HIV and hepatitis are being encouraged to attend an event in Belfast next week as part of a public inquiry.

In the 1970s and 1980s, some blood products used to treat NHS patients were imported from the US.

They included blood donations from prisoners, who were at risk of hepatitis C or HIV. Across the UK, more than 2,000 patients are thought to have died as a result of the infected blood scandal.

Christopher James, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society, described it as the “worst tragedy in the history of the NHS” in 2009.

In February this year, it was announced that Mr Justice Langstaff would lead a public inquiry into the scandal.

Haemophilia Northern Ireland is encouraging surviving victims from Northern Ireland to attend meetings to fully inform victims and their families on the work of the inquiry team at The MAC, Exchange Street, Belfast, between 11am and 1pm, and 2.30pm and 4.30pm on Monday.

Simon Hamilton, chair of Haemophilia Northern Ireland, said: “I want to encourage haemophiliacs and their families, and all those affected by the infected blood scandal, to make their voices heard by attending the Belfast events and signing up to be witnesses and core participants in the inquiry.

“It is vital that the voice of Northern Ireland is heard. Haemophilia Northern Ireland has set up a website for those interested in registering, at www.haemophiliani.org which is full of essential information and support.”

He added: “Our solicitors are one of the four firms recognised by the inquiry to be able to provide assistance with no cost.”