Authorities were “engaged in a complicity of silence”, the mother of one of the victims of the infected blood scandal has said.
Della Hirsch, whose 35-year-old son Nick died having contracted hepatitis C as a result of his haemophilia treatment, said: “Science screwed us.”
Giving evidence to the Infected Blood Inquiry, Ms Hirsch said medical professionals and the government did not voice their concerns about the possibility of contaminated blood used to treat patients in the 1970s and 1980s.
“So many medical professionals did not share their suspicions, and at the same time made it impossible to ask questions or raise doubts,” she said.
“Science screwed us.”
Ms Hirsch, whose son was diagnosed with haemophilia shortly after his birth in 1976, was giving evidence to a public inquiry considering the treatment of thousands of people in the 1970s and 1980s who were given blood products infected with hepatitis viruses and HIV, and the impact this has had.
The inquiry has heard the number of infected could go “far beyond 25,000”.
Ms Hirsch said she believed “both medical professionals and others including the Department of Health involved in blood products, were engaged in a complicity of silence” about the possibility of infection.
She said she hoped the investigation would “look into the Department of Health’s dark corners”.
Ms Hirsch also told the inquiry about the impact her son’s care had had on her family.
“The misery and appalling lack of care” from medical professionals “can never be overstated”, she said.
As a result of the care, Ms Hirsch said at times she “felt we were to blame”.
She concluded her statement by saying to victims: “This is our inquiry. A chance to ask questions we were not allowed to get out of our mouths.”
Another victim, Michelle Tolley, 53, told the inquiry she contracted hepatitis C from blood transfused in 1987 and 1991 after childbirth.
She was not diagnosed with the condition until November 2015.
Ms Tolley told the inquiry her concerns of infection were initially dismissed by medical professionals.
She said after seeing a health warning about the possibility of infected blood in the mid-1990s, she went to visit her GP with fatigue symptoms.
Ms Tolley was told by the doctor: “You have four children, what do you expect?
“Don’t be silly, of course you won’t have (infected blood).”
She said the delay in being diagnosed meant “there are so many who do not know they have been given a death sentence without committing a crime”.
Ms Tolley described the effect of her illness, saying: “The impact has been one of devastation, destruction, and ultimately death.”
She said of affected families: “The ripple effect from the infected to the innocent affected victims has seen children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives – sometimes entire generations lost.
“What was the cause of this bloody mess?”
Ms Tolley concluded by saying: “Those responsible for this tragedy must be identified, must be held responsible for their actions and prosecuted if necessary.”
The inquiry continues.