FOI reveals knowledge of contaminated blood products

Confidential minutes from meetings held by directors of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that blood taken from Scottish prisoners continued to be used in NHS transfusions during the 1980s despite serious concerns that the practice was unsafe.

Large quantities of blood from American troops was also used by the SNBTS and doctors were aware in 1981 that the blood they were purchasing from the US was contaminated with at least two forms of the hepatitis virus. Heat treatment of blood – which kills hepatitis and HIV – was not introduced in Scotland until 1987.

The information in the released documents appears to contradict evidence that former health minister Malcolm Chisholm presented to the health committee when he stated that the dangers from hepatitis C were not known until 1990.

NHS knew blood for tranfusions was contaminated with hepatitis: Government refuses public inquiry into unsafe practice (Sunday Herald, 23 January 2005)

See also: New concern over prisoners' blood (BBC website, 24 January 2005)