AN INQUIRY into the ‘worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS’ which affected several Stratford residents has been welcomed by Nadhim Zahawi.
The Stratford MP has campaigned tirelessly for an inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal which took place in the 1970s and 80s, and which is believed to have claimed the lives of 2,500 people.
Stratford constituents were among those given blood from abroad which was infected with HIV and Hepatitus C. Many of the donations were given by prison inmates in the US who sold their blood.
Victims – of which there are believed to be 7,500 – and their families believe they were not told of the risks involved and there was a cover-up.
And now answers can be expected after it was announced a full public inquiry would be held.
A Stratford man was one of those infected with Hepatitis through contaminated blood and went on to be diagnosed with arthritis and liver cancer. Mr Zahawi said the man had struggled to get support despite his serious ill health.
Another two victims locally have suffered at the hands of the Macfarlane Trust, which was set up by the government in 1988 to compensate those affected by the scandal.
Mr Zahawi said: “I have been working with the victims in my constituency for the past six years and I consider myself a new boy when it comes to this particular tragedy and scandal.
“I have campaigned with two in particular. In addition to helping them find resolution to the many instances of appalling treatment they have undergone at the hands of the trust.
“There has never been a final compensation settlement for the victims and their families, rather they have been drip-fed scraps of money over many years.
“The financial implications of suffering from the illnesses contracted as a result of the scandal have been severe for many victims. Many have become increasingly dependent on payouts from such bodies, giving unaccountable individuals like the trustees of the Macfarlane Trust considerable control over the quality of their lives.
“It is difficult to put into words the terrible experiences that my constituents have had with the trust and I know that the problems have not been confined to them.”
Two local victims both say they have had to go ‘cap in hand’ to beg the trust for desperately needed support payments.
One woman said: “The trust neither cares nor understands what we are going through.
“I want to be empowered and have autonomy over my own life, rather than continue with victim culture through charity.”
Mr Zahawi hopes the inquiry will result in compensation for his affected constituents.
He said: “The timescale of this inquiry is sadly of the essence due to the seriousness of the illnesses from which many of the victims suffer. It is therefore vital that we deliver justice before it is too late for them.
“I am nonetheless thankful for the small peace of mind that the announcement will have brought to victims across the country, and the knowledge that the process of justice is finally due to start.”