Information about contaminated blood products "accidentally destroyed "

The government has admitted that most of the files that documented meetings between the Blood Transfusion Service, health boards and consultants have been accidentally destroyed.

The documents, held by the Department of Health, contained information about people infected through NHS blood products. They would have detailed precisely when the government became aware of the risks involved and what measures were taken to warn patients. Contaminated blood products led to the infection of about 4,800 haemophiliacs in Britain with hepatitis C and 1,200 with HIV. Around 300 of the 1,200 are still alive.

The Scotsman reports that campaigners lobbying for people infected via NHS blood products claim that "copies of some documents, released last December by the Scottish Executive under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), would allow lawyers to construct a "legal jigsaw" to pursue cases throughout the UK". The Scottish Executive's FOI material indicates the government knew as early as March 1972 that there were serious problems with contaminated blood.

640 patients in Scotland infected with hepatitis C have been paid a total of £12 million in compensation under a Scottish Executive scheme. However, MSPs voted against holding a public inquiry into the contamination of blood products in the 1980s.

'Destroyed' files key for haemophiliacs given infected blood (The Scotsman, 14 January 2006)

Documents relating to Hepatitis C and NHS teatment with blood products (Scottish Executive website, 13 December 2005)