Archer Inquiry

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 1st July 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jennifer Willott Jennifer Willott Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 4:00 pm, 1st July 2009

I am grateful to have secured this debate about the Archer inquiry into contaminated blood and blood products. I should like to put it on record that I am sincerely grateful to Lord Archer’s team for its informed and reasoned assessment of the situation. Lord Archer himself did not apportion blame. His focus, and mine today, was the treatment of the victims of this appalling tragedy.

Some 1,200 patients were infected with HIV and 4,670 with hepatitis C as a result of NHS treatment in the 1970s and 1980s. Many of those patients were unaware of their infection and went on to infect their husbands and wives as well. So far, some 1,800 members of the haemophiliac community have died. In the past few years, many of the survivors have been told that they may have contracted variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from infected blood products.

Haydn Lewis, a constituent of mine, has been infected with hepatitis B and C and HIV. He also infected his wife with HIV before he was aware of his own status. His brothers, who are also haemophiliacs, are infected as well. Last year, Haydn was informed that he had been exposed to vCJD. Moreover, as a result of his hepatitis C, he developed liver cancer and has recently had a liver transplant. Haydn’s health has suffered massively over the years. He had to give up work early, and his entire family has suffered as a result of his condition. His family is just one of thousands across the country.

Despite the fact that a large number of people have been affected, there has been a desperate lack of public debate on the subject. The last debate in the Commons was in 1990, and the last Westminster Hall debate was nearly 10 years ago. The Department of Health did not even make an oral statement when it responded to Lord Archer’s report. The level of interest in today’s half-hour debate demonstrates the need for a much longer debate in Parliament.