Contaminated Blood Inquiry told consultant ‘experimented on patients’

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A deceased UK National Health Service (NHS) consultant could have been charged with manslaughter over the deaths of haemophiliac patients given blood infected with HIV and hepatitis C, BBC News reports a lawyer for families has claimed.

Des Collins said the reputation of Professor Arthur Bloom “cannot remain intact”. The role of Bloom has been mentioned by families of a number of victims giving evidence to the contaminated blood inquiry in Cardiff.

The health board said it was awaiting the findings of the Contaminated Blood Scandal Inquiry.

The report says a haemophilia centre at the University Hospital of Wales was named after Bloom who died in 1992 aged 62. He had been one of the UK’s leading haematologists. But Collins is reported as claiming “for all practical purposes” Bloom was experimenting on his patients, who were unknowingly part of a study of imported blood-derived treatments for the clotting disorder.

One widow has told the inquiry she wants answers about when Bloom, and also the UK’s Health Department, government ministers and pharmaceutical companies, knew about blood risks.

The report says Colin Smith, from Newport, died of Aids in 1990, aged seven. His parents said his medical notes showed he was one of those included in a trial of US blood products, while under Bloom’s care

And the father of haemophiliac Paul Summers told the hearing Bloom did not tell his son he had been infected with HIV and hepatitis C. He said he did not find out until he moved to Plymouth and a doctor there saw it in his medical notes.

The report says while sitting in Cardiff, the inquiry has been read a letter, written by Bloom in 1982 to fellow haemophilia consultants, discussing pharmaceutical efforts to reduce the risk of hepatitis transmissions. A study in human beings was important, he wrote, and the best subjects for this were “previously untreated patients” – known as “pups”.

The report says it was previously revealed that, in the year after this letter, Bloom discussed with colleagues the implications of Aids for haemophiliacs. He recommended it would be “circumspect” for children aged under four to have an older, more cumbersome treatment – cryo-precipitate – rather than imported products. But weeks later, Colin Smith, who was a baby at the time, was treated with an imported blood product and became infected with HIV.

The report says his family is one of hundreds represented at the inquiry by Collins, who acts for a number of campaign and lobby groups. Collins said: “He was using the material available to him to test on their son in circumstances where he had no authority to do that. And that amounts to an assault. In all probability, given that Colin died, it would be manslaughter. He knew what he was doing. It was not a mistake. Some may say he did his best. But if that was his best, it fell so far short of what the appropriate standards are, and were, that it is wrong that his reputation should remain intact. This isn’t trying to ruin the man’s reputation after he’s dead and he can’t defend himself; this is a reputation that he ruined himself.”

The report says the programme heard two of Bloom’s older patients, Cardiff brothers Haydn and Gareth Lewis, began tracking down paperwork in the early 1990s, including Colin’s medical notes, to find what they could about the classification and treatment of “pups”.

Collins said: “The Lewis brothers at a very early stage uncovered a mass of material that pointed the finger at Arthur Bloom. Unfortunately, they were not listened to.”

The report says the brothers, who were both infected with HIV and Hepatitis C, died in their fifties in 2010.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said it was co-operating fully with the inquiry. It added: “We cannot comment on historical allegations at this stage and will await the findings of the inquiry and then take any necessary steps.

BBC News report

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