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Patients affected by NHS contaminated blood scandal urged to come forward

Victims of a major blood contamination scandal in Northern Ireland are being urged to take part in a public inquiry
Seanín Graham

A GROUP representing more than 300 haemophiliacs in Northern Ireland is urging patients to come forward to take part in a public inquiry into a massive blood scandal.

In what has been dubbed 'the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS', 2,400 people died across the UK after receiving infected blood products during transfusions and other treatments, while 5,000 people were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C.

After repeated calls by campaigners for the inquiry over the past 30 years, the British government announced it will investigate whether there was a cover-up. The infected blood products were used in the NHS during the late 1970s and 1980s.

Campaign group Haemophilia Northern Ireland say they have managed to agree an extension of a deadline until next month to encourage victims from the north to come forward.

A public meeting was held yesterday and further events are being planned, with the final cut-off date for registration at August 13. The inquiry is holding its hearing in September.

Simon Hamilton, chair of the group, said he hoped justice would be accorded to victims affected by contaminated blood.

"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," he said.

The group has set up a website for those interested in registering, at www.haemophiliani.org or call 028 92 013 040.

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