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Inquiry Counsel Presentation Continued – Cardiff Haemophilia Centre and Professor Bloom

Jenni Richards QC began by concluding the evidence in relation the Cardiff Haemophilia Centre and Professor Bloom. Ms Richards QC explained that one of the themes that emerged from the documents was Professor Bloom’s relationship with pharmaceutical companies and whether the Professor’s views may have influenced the pharmaceutical companies.

Ms Richards QC then discussed some of the oral evidence that was provided during the Cardiff hearings. The purpose was to highlight the common themes; that patients and their relatives were not told by Professor Bloom of the risks relating to Factor concentrates or any risks arising out of that treatment. There were a number of thematic issues in relation to policies and procedures under Professor Bloom. A number of witnesses were not aware that they were being tested for HIV.

It is clear from the material produced so far that Professor Bloom was a central and important figure in shaping haemophilia clinics’ response to the risk of AIDS by the time of its emergence in 1982. He was Chair for three years and clearly a significant figure. From his role as a Chair it appears that he received more information than other clinicians working in the field.

Inquiry Counsel Presentation – St Thomas’ Haemophilia Centre

The Haemophilia Centre at St Thomas’ Hospital, London was one of the major haemophilia centres in England. Ms Richards QC made the Inquiry aware that there were substantially fewer documents in comparison to the haemophilia centres in Cardiff and Oxford. Ms Richards explained that she will be looking at the material thematically.

From 1956 until 1979 Professor Ingram was the key protagonist in the Department of Haematology at St Thomas’ Hospital. In around 1973 the Centre became recognised as a Regional Haemophilia Centre. Professor Ingram was succeeded by Professor Savidge in 1979 who remained the Director of the Centre until 2006.

We are aware that in November 1970, the Department of Health held a meeting which Professor Ingram attended as a representative of the Haemophilia Society. The purpose of that meeting was to discuss the treatment of haemophiliacs and the supply of concentrates. Professor Ingram was an early advocate of home treatment and introduced this to the haemophiliacs at St Thomas’. Home treatment was fully established at St Thomas’ by April 1976.

Professor Ingram first raised his concerns about the insufficient supplies of NHS product from as early as 1970. By 1974, concerns were being raised about the lack of sufficient funds to purchase commercial factor VIII. Sir Brian clarified to the Inquiry that it appears that from 1974 concerns were raised by St Thomas’ about the lack of funding to purchase concentrate and by 1978 concerns were raised about funding in order to make concentrate.

Ms Richards QC then turned to the developing knowledge of risk of HIV. On the 13th of May 1983 we are aware that a meeting took place which was specifically called to discuss what should be done in relation to AIDS. We are also aware that Professor Savidge attended meetings from the early 1980’s where he would have received information in relation to the risks of HIV.

Ms Richards QC explained that was little information about how St Thomas’ or Professor Savidge organised the care and treatment of either those diagnosed with HIV and Hepatitis C in the early 1980’s and therefore needed to examine the evidence provided by the individual witnesses who were treated at St Thomas’. Ms Richards QC explained that the themes that arise from the individual witnesses are: –

  • Patients not being provided with advice or warning of the risks associated with HIV
  • Being tested for HIV without the patient knowing
  • Patients not being told about the risks of Hepatitis C
  • The way in which positive diagnosis were communicated
  • Concerns expressed about the delays of being told about the diagnosis

Ms Richards QC then moved on to Professor Savidge’s involvement with research and trials.
We are aware that in 1983 Professor Savidge was conducting viral studies with factor VIII concentrates. A particular interest to him was the impact of the use of heat-treated concentrates and there were two papers published in 1985 which showed some of the work he was untaken in that respect.

From a review of the documentation, Counsel explained that there’s a lot that doesn’t emerge from the documentation, in particular:-

  • What information was being provided to patients about the risks
  • How and when testing was undertaken
  • What information was given and how
  • How were patients told about their diagnosis

Counsel explained that it will be for Sir Brian to essentially fill in the gaps through examining the evidence from patients who were treated.  Counsel went on to explain that there is an incomplete jigsaw from the documentation.

To conclude, Counsel showed three very short clips from a 1985 documentation called “Bad Blood”. The three clips were interviews with Professor Savidge. The first clip dealt with Professor Savidge discussing treatment and that if the treatment was removed it would take away patients independent life style, the possibility of gaining employment, the possibility of having a family and being able to offer a sensible contribution to society. Counsel explained that Professor Savidge clearly regarded the importance of the ability to treat with concentrate. The second clip discussed the transmission of HIV to someone else. The final clip discussed his observations in respect of the role of commercial material and the issue of self sufficiency and insufficient supply of NHS material.

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