Beginning the second day of the presentation on Belfast Haemophilia Centre, the Inquiry looked at information provided to patients regarding hepatitis C. The audience heard how blood tests were carried out on haemophilia patients when they attended the Centre for routine check-ups. Ms Richards QC pointed out that records relating to the blood tests did not state anything about patient consent or what information was provided to patients about the risks of viral infections.
The presentation focussed on the statement of Dr Mayne and went into detail as to what information patients were given. Dr Mayne states that patients knew donors came from large pools and understood the risks of this and, furthermore, patients provided consent to being tested for HIV and hepatitis C. The audience heard how this account contrasted with that of many patients. Many witness statements provided to the Inquiry set out how they were only told of a diagnosis when they attended the Haemophilia Centre for a routine check up.
The Inquiry’s presentation then looked at the knowledge of AIDS risk. It was heard that Dr Mayne first became aware of the risk of AIDS transmission through blood products during a meeting with Professor Bloom, Dr Craske and Dr Kernoff. However, in her statement, Dr Mayne states that she cannot recall the date of this meeting. The presentation looked at a letter from Professor Bloom to Dr Mayne dated March 1983. The letter set out Professor Bloom’s knowledge of HIV risk in blood products. Sir Brian Langstaff then made reference to Dr Mayne’s witness statement and her belief that by 1983 the position regarding AIDS was underestimated.
Ms Richards QC then focussed on a circular letter dated June 1983 which set out recommendations to reduce the AIDS risk in treatment for mildly affected haemophilia A patients. The recommendations included in the letter were implemented by Belfast Haemophilia Centre and included use of freeze dried concentrates and cryoprecipitate in children in order to reduce the risk of AIDS transmission.
The presentation then looked at testing for HIV at the haemophilia centre which was rolled out in 1985. Patients were informed of these test results either by letter or face-to-face. In terms of the care provided at the centre for HIV positive haemophiliacs, Dr Mayne was the primary clinician involved with this.
The presentation drew attention to record keeping and how this was maintained at the Centre. It was unknown as to what the general process of record keeping was at the Centre. However, haemophilia clinician, Dr Anderson, set out in her witness statements to the Inquiry that medical records were hand written and kept meticulously.
The Inquiry then looked at the topic of how patients’ data was shared. Dr Mayne remarked in her witness statement that patients were aware of the existence of the UKHCDO and the fact the secretariat collected and compiled statistics. Dr Mayne’s statement drew on the fact that this consent from the patients was implied rather than express. Sir Brian remarked that the sharing of patients’ information with the UKHCDO was not just an issue at Belfast Haemophilia Centre but across many haemophilia centres.
The presentation then focussed on the topic of death certificates. Dr Mayne stated in her witness statement that it was universal practice across the UK for clinicians to omit HIV from a patient’s death certificate. Although this information was omitted Dr Mayne stated that undertakers were informed if a deceased patient was HIV positive.
Concluding the presentation on the Belfast Haemophilia Centre, Counsel Jenni Richards QC looked at the involvement of pharmaceutical companies at the Centre and the influence they had. It was noted that some pharmaceutical companies had sponsored Dr Mayne to attend conferences.
For a copy of the transcript please click here:https://www.infectedbloodinquiry.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Transcript%20-%20London%20-%20Wednesday%2031%20March%202021%20%28Presentation%20about%20the%20Belfast%20Haemophilia%20Centre%20continued%29.pdf