Newsletter 4 October 2018

 Church House

First Hearings of the Infected Blood Inquiry

“The Government had abdicated its responsibility to do the ‘right thing’ by The Haemophilia Community and hid behind the concept of litigation to avoid its moral responsibility.” These were the words of Raymond Bradley, leader of The Haemophilia Society’s legal team to the preliminary three days of hearings of the Infected Blood Inquiry.

Mr Bradley went on to show the Inquiry letters from both Margaret Thatcher and John Major when they were Prime Ministers.  One, from Mrs Thatcher, said: “The question of compensation has been made a matter for the Courts to decide”, while a later letter from John Major suggested people suffering: “might be able to benefit from Lottery grants, but this would be a matter for the Board to decide in response to any applications received.”

Concluding his statement, Mr Bradley said it was now necessary for the Inquiry to make interim recommendations to alleviate financial hardship and address the compensation issue without further delay. “It says to this government and to previous governments – you ought to hang your head in shame for failing your vulnerable citizens and our members in their greatest hour of need,” he said.

The preliminary hearings were held at Church House, Westminster, on September 24/26.  Before the formal proceedings there was a moving Commemoration of those infected and affected with pictures, words, video statements and music.  (You can watch the Commemoration on the Inquiry’s web site at: www.infectedbloodinquiry.org.uk).

Chair of the Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, had begun proceedings by explaining the principles under which the Inquiry will operate.  He said he was determined that people would be at the heart of the Inquiry, and those infected and affected will be heard first.  Sir Brian also said the Inquiry will be completed ‘as quickly as reasonable thoroughness permits’ recognising that those infected and affected are still suffering today.

Counsel for the Inquiry, Jenni Richards QC, told the Inquiry that formal hearings will resume again on 30 April 2019 with evidence from a range of infected and affected people.  She said that these hearings would be held in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh as well as London. She added that it was also probable there would be some hearings in Leeds.

She continued that hearings would then resume again next autumn when evidence about the key issues of what happened and why will be heard.  The Inquiry will look at what was known, or ought to have been known, about the risks of infection, by government, pharmaceutical companies, licensing authorities, NHS bodies, the medical profession and others.

Keep up to date at the Society’s Inquiry Web site
You can keep up to date with all the latest news and information about the Inquiry at the new special section of The Haemophilia Society’s web site.  Visitors to the site will be able to catch up on the news from the Inquiry and read up on the history of the scandal.  There are also links to many useful web sites for those who have been infected or affected.  You can log onto the site here.  (www.inquiry.haemophilia.org.uk).

Every voice is valuable: your opportunity to tell your story

Everyone infected and affected by the Infected Blood Scandal has a story to tell. Inquiry Chairman, Sir Brian Langstaff said: “Every voice is valuable, we want to hear from everyone.”  The Public Inquiry needs to hear as many stories as possible, every story adds weight to the evidence to be considered.

The Inquiry begins hearing individual testimony next April (2019), if you have been infected or affected by the scandal now is your opportunity to tell your story.  While it is for you to decide if you wish to tell your story, if you do the Society will provide support through its own resources and its legal advisors.

The Society has been representing its members’ interests for more than 60 years and will continue to do during this inquiry and beyond.  We would, therefore, hope that you will join with us and allow us to represent your interests at this important phase of our community’s history.  You will need to be a member of The Society, which is free to join, but you will be able to opt out of any communications not related to the Inquiry or any topic if you want.

To join with The Society and its legal team to tell your story simply click here; complete the form and return it to The Haemophilia Society, Willcox House, 140-148 Borough High Street, London SE1 1LB; e-mail to publicinquiry@haemophilia.org.uk or call 0207 939 0780.

Meet the Leader of our Legal Team

The Society appointed Malcomson Law as their legal advisors who have unrivalled experience in bleeding disorders litigation and have represented people with bleeding disorders at public inquiries, and compensation tribunal schemes and have promoted the interests of people with bleeding disorders at government level in several countries.

Raymond Bradley

Leading the team from Malcomson Law is Raymond Bradley, their managing partner, who has more than 20 years’ experience in public inquiries, compensation schemes and civil litigation in health law.  He represented the Irish Haemophilia Society in their Inquiry and internationally he has advised Japanese lawyers on blood and blood product contamination, worked with the New Zealand Haemophilia Society in achieving its access to compensation and, following the Krever Inquiry in Canada, worked in relation to the criminal prosecution by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  He has also worked with legal teams who have secured millions in compensation for individual victims of contaminated blood and blood products.

Click here to hear Raymond talk about the Inquiry.

Reminder – Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance

The annual service to remember those who have died from contaminated blood products within the bleeding disorders community is at St Botolphs without Bishopsgate Church, in London, on Saturday 27 October 2018 at 2:30 pm.

It is expected that many people will wish to attend so tickets are being issued.  To book your place please e-mail info@haemophilia.org.uk or call 020 7939 0780 and your ticket will be posted to you.  If you are unable to attend but would like a candle lit or a name entered in the Book of Remembrance, or to make a donation to help fund the service, please contact info@haemophilia.org.uk or call 020 7939 0780.

Coping with Stress

The Public Inquiry has, for many people, brought back difficult memories.  It is perfectly normal for you to find this stressful.  It can be helpful to express these feelings with people you trust and help you manage more in the longer term.  However, if you feel your emotions are not returning and you are still experiencing tension, confusion, emptiness or exhaustion you may need help.

Help is available through your GP, the social services department of your local authority, the British Red Cross (www.redcross.org.uk), CRUSE Bereavement  (0870 167 167:  www.cruse.org.uk),  the Salvation Army (0845 634 0101 : www.salvationarmy.org.uk) or the Samaritans (116 123 : www.samaritans.org.uk)

Society Conference – 17/18 November

The Haemophilia Society’s member conference is being held on 17/18 November in Birmingham and will include a session for members about the Infected Blood Public Inquiry, its progress and the role of The Society at the Inquiry.  Full details about the event, including a gala dinner are available on the society’s web site at https://bit.ly/2QoPpOv .

There will also be sessions on a wide range of relevant topics and opportunities to meet others with bleeding disorders.

Trying to get medical records?

Following requests for help from several members who are having difficulties in obtaining their medical records, The Society has put together the following advice.

How do I go about getting my medical records?
You have the right to see your medical records. To do so you must make a request, in writing, to your healthcare provider (that is your hospital and/or your GP).  If you want to see both GP and hospital records, you will need to apply separately to each.

From your GP
For your GP records you will normally need to ask the Practice Manager. Please remember, your GP record should include copies of letters from the hospital to your GP.

You will need to prove your identity, this will normally be by showing two forms of identification, including one with a photograph of you (such as passport or driving licence) and one with proof of address (such a gas or electric bill).

From your Hospital
When applying for your hospital records you will normally need to contact the Records Manager at the hospital where you received your treatment. Again you will need to supply proof of identity and may be asked to complete a specific request form.

You should receive a reply from the healthcare provider within 28 days.

Will I have to pay to get a copy of my records?
Any charges are a matter for the hospital trust.  However, the Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, has received confirmation from the heads of the NHS in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that any normal fees for requests in connection with the Inquiry will be waived.

What if the hospital or GP has closed or moved?
When a hospital closes or moves the records are taken to the new hospital site or to the next main hospital that takes over providing those services in that area.  Any request for records should be made, in the first instance, to the new hospital.  Remember if you have difficulty with hospital records, your GP records should contain all the letters and other correspondence from the hospital to your GP.

If you have changed GP your records should have moved with you to the new surgery.  If you are not registered with a GP your records may still be with the last GP surgery you were registered with. If you still cannot trace your GP records then contact:

● For England – Primary Care Support England, FAO Access Team, Primary Care Support England, 3 Caxton Road, Fulwood, Preston, PR2 9ZZ Email:  pcse.accessrequests@nhs.net
● For Wales – NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, The Records Manager, NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, HRR Department, NWSSP, Cwmbran House, Mamhilad Park Estate, Pontypool, NP4 0XS Email: nwssp-primarycareservices@wales.nhs.uk
● For Scotland – NHS Scotland Practitioner Services, Records Manager, Practitioner Services, NHS National Services Scotland, Gyle Square, 1 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9EB Email: adam.bates@nhs.net
● For Northern Ireland – Medical Services Department, Business Services Organisation, The Records Manager, Medical Services Department, Business Services, 2 Franklin Street , Belfast , BT2 8DQ Email: dpa.bso@hscni.net

Are there any other sources of records?
The UK Haemophilia Centre Doctors’ Organisation (UKHCDO) collect data on diagnosis, treatment and management of bleeding disorders.  There is more detailed information on how you can obtain records held by the UKHCDO on their web site, www.ukhcdo.org together with an application form you will need to complete.

Can someone else request your medical records on your behalf?

Medical records are strictly confidential so you can only get copies of someone else’s records if you have been given their express permission to do so or if you have the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf (known as a power of attorney).

As before, you will need to make your request in writing to the healthcare provider or GP along with the patient’s written consent or a copy of your legal authority.

Can I apply for the records of a family member who had died? 
The GP records of people who have died are generally kept for about 10 years and by hospitals for about eight years.

Relatives do not have automatic rights to request records and it is up to the record holders to consider whether to disclose or not, although they would have to give a good reason not to do so.  It is, therefore, best to make it very clear that your request is connected to providing evidence to the Infected Blood Inquiry. You will also need to provide proof of your relationship to the deceased.

Is there any other help available?
The Inquiry Team has produced a set of forms which you can use if the healthcare provider does not have their own.  These forms include all of the information that you would need to include in your request and can be found on the Inquiry web site.

 

Read previous newsletters:

Newsletter 3 – September 2018

Newsletter 2 – July 2018

 

 

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