"I can't forgive them" says daughter of Thornton man who died after being infected by contaminated blood at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

The daughter of a Thornton man who died four decades after being infected by contaminated blood at Blackpool Victoria Hospital says she can 'never forgive' the people responsible for her dad's tragic death.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 12:30 pm
Rebecca and Christine Birch with a picture of Paul, who died as a result of a contaminated blood transfusion
Rebecca and Christine Birch with a picture of Paul, who died as a result of a contaminated blood transfusion

Paul Birch, 59, died in January 2017, 42 years after it is believed he contracted hepatitis C in a blood transfusion at the Vic following a motorbike accident.

An inquiry into the alleged cover-up of infected blood used in hospitals during the 1970s and 1980s in what has been called the ‘worst ever’ NHS treatment disaster was has now come to a close as the government has accepted responsibility for the wide-spread scandal, which is believed to have claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people.

But Paul's daughter Rebecca, 27, said: "They have taken lives and tried to cover it up for 40 years. That's how I feel and I'm still angry about it. I can't forgive them. They took away my best friend, they took away my son's granddad. It has been four years since we lost him and it still affects us.

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"I feel like now they have taken responsibility and admitted to it they will be quick to decide it's over and done with, but it's not over for us. There are people who are still getting diagnosed with hepatitis to this day. There are people whose family members have died and they don't know why."

As many as 30,000 people are believed to have been infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses due to contaminated blood transfusions, the BBC reported.

New compensation plans for families of those who died as a result have been drawn up to ensure all victims receive the same level of financial support across the UK.

The current levels of compensation differ in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales depending on a number of factors - including the victims' income.

Because of this, Rebecca says, her mum, Paul's widow, Christine has been unable to move in with her daughter as their resulting combined household income would mean she would no longer qualify for payments.

Rebecca, a mum of one, said: “My mum worked for the NHS for 40 years and she was made redundant while my dad was dying. She should be compensated. Income shouldn’t come into it.

“Not only did she lose her husband of 40 years, she had to adjust to being a single person with half her usual household income, and it’s not easy.”

Paul, a joiner who lived on Rock Street, had no idea he had been living with the hepatitus C virus until 2011. He received intensive treatment, but his was warned to prepare for the worst.

He was diagnosed with cancer of the lymph nodes in 2016.

Rebecca, a mum of one, said: “I have never been able to grieve for my dad because it wasn’t a natural death. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to, and it hurts.

“I should be able to grieve for him, but because of the circumstances in which he died I just can’t accept it. If it had been a natural death, I could accept it.

“I can’t ever forgive it. If it wasn’t for them, my dad would still be here. There’s nothing anybody can do about it, but it’s so hard to accept because my dad should still be alive.”

Jason Evans, founder of independent haemophilia group Factor 8, said: "In January 2020, Factor 8 proposed to Ministers during a face-to-face meeting at the Cabinet Office that work should begin on a framework for compensation. Those impacted by infected blood products widely supported this proposal.

"Our members have been pressing the government ever since to provide an update.

"We hope that reports coming out of The Times today signal the beginning of the end in the fight for recompense. We will continue to work with our legal team at Collins Solicitors, the Infected Blood Inquiry and look forward to a further statement from the government on Monday."