‘I thought I would be dead before this happened’ - Ipswich contaminated blood victim ‘ecstatic’ at news of inquiry
PUBLISHED: 15:00 11 July 2017 | UPDATED: 08:15 12 July 2017
An Ipswich grandfather who was infected with deadly diseases during the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS says he is “ecstatic” after learning a public inquiry will finally be held.
Alan Burgess, 59, has been campaigning for 30 years, seeking justice for fellow victims of the contaminated blood tragedy, which has killed over 2,000 people.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced today that a public inquiry would be held into the scandal, in which thousands of people, many of them haemophiliacs, were infected with contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 80s. Some of these came from high-risk sources, including prisoners. Many victims have died while thousands more were left with incurable diseases, including HIV and Hepatitis C.
Mrs May’s spokesman said it was “necessary to establish the causes of this appalling injustice”.
Reacting to the news, Mr Burgess, 59, said he was “ecstatic”.
“I’ve been campaigning for this for almost 30 years” he added. “We’ve called for this so many times and we’ve always had it thrown back at us. But now we will finally get to the truth about what happened and find justice for the victims. Maybe those 2,400 deaths won’t be completely in vain anymore.”
Mr Burgess was co-infected with HIV and Hepatitis C after being given a contaminated blood products to treat his haemophilia.
He was told by doctors he had just months to live and says he nearly lost everything.
“I lost my business, nearly lost my family and nearly died – hundreds of other people did lose their lives,” he added. “I thought I would be dead before this came out, I really thought I would be long gone.”
Campaigners have spent decades calling for a full investigation. Recently their persistence attracted high profile support. Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham used his last speech as an MP to allege a “criminal cover-up”. This week, six opposition party leaders wrote to Government calling for an inquiry. Mr Burgess said the Government had been “backed into a corner”.
Consultation will take place into what form the inquiry will take.
Mrs May’s spokesman said the tragedy caused “immeasurable hardship” and a full inquiry “is the right course of action to take”.
The spokesman said the decision to hold an investigation had been prompted by new evidence. MPs including the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the announcement.