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The Inquiry continued to hear evidence from David Watters, former General Secretary of the Haemophilia Society.

Counsel noted there had been discussion of dealings with the Department of Health in London and inquired into interaction and correspondence with the Scottish, Welsh, Northern Ireland or Local offices. Mr Watters said he had no recollection of this. On an international basis, Mr Watters said that any sharing of documents of interest between societies in different countries would be done through the World Foundation Congress.

Documents from 1983 were shown. A letter from a pharmaceutical company to Professor Bloom stated evidence suggests AIDS can be transmitted through Factor VIII. A letter to the DHSS from Dr Spence Galbraith, advocated for all Factor concentrate from 1978 onwards to be withdrawn. Mr Watters said he did not believe the Haemophilia Society were aware of these letters and if they had been, it may have affected their stance. At a Council meeting in October 1983, Professor Bloom gave a talk about concerns. Mr Watters later wrote to thank Professor Bloom for the talk as it helped to allay unfounded fears. In a litigation report Professor Bloom referred to this meeting and claimed he advised caution and to revise dosage and modify lifestyles to prevent bleeding. His impression was his relationship with the Haemophilia Society changed from this date and they sought his advice less. Mr Watters said he thinks he would recall if Professor Bloom had given this different advice and he had no recollection of the Society’s attitude to Professor Bloom changin.

Letters were shown from Mr Watters sent in November 1984. A letter was sent to all Centre Directors and Local Groups, noting the presence of HTLV III antibodies against the virus was not a diagnosis. Another letter on the same date was sent to all Centre Directors and Transfusion Centre Directors. Mr Watters said he was likely writing to all Directors on these occasions as they were looking for a quicker response from a wider audience. At a Council meeting in November 1984 it was decided it was necessary to demand heat treated products from Centres. The previous policy that treatment outweighed no treatment remained; they endorsed advice to continue to accept prescribed medications. Mr Watters said this policy was based on the conviction that Haemophilia itself was more serious than AIDS.

At an Executive Committee Meeting in February 1985, in regards to AIDS, problems noted were: a lack of direction from Centres, varied and uncoordinated approaches and a lack of confidentiality from hospital staff. Mr Watters said these were issued that would have been raised by members attending Centres. In the Haemofact published in May 1985, it was stated that all evidence now points to virtually all haemophilia patients who received products from large plasma pools have been exposed to HTLV III. Mr Watters said that the Society acted based on the information they had available at the time.

In a Bulletin from 1985 it was stated that a £90,000 fund to fight AIDS was allocated for Reference Centres from the DHSS for counselling. Mr Watters said he did not recall any involvement of the Society for funding Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish or non Reference Centres. In the Haemofact publication in September, it was noted that the decision of disclosing one’s antibody status was entirely up to them. Mr Watters recalled the Soceity advised against disclosure due to the discrimination members received. Mr Watters said the purpose of Society publications was to be informative to members. However, they did not intend to replace medical advice, that responsibility lay with the physicians.

On the topic of confidentiality, Mr Watters said the Society became aware of HIV testing without consent and on stored samples. He said he recalled the issue was raised with the UKHCDO as an issue that could be open to litigation. At a Council meeting in March 1987 it was decided instances of questionable practice by healthcare professionals on confidentiality should be reported to the General Secretary. Mr Watters said he would then raise the issue to the appropriate authorities. In the minutes of the Medical Advisory Panel in 1990, how to inform patients of positive Hepatitis C results from stored samples was raised.

Mr Watters then spoke on the involvements of the Haemophilia Society in litigation and campaigns for compensation. Correspondence was shown between Mr Watters and the US National Foundation in 18985. The US Foundation said they were taking no legal action. Mr Watters responded saying he was grateful for this information as it will be useful for killing the rising tide of opinion in the UK. Mr Watters told the Inquiry he does not know what he was referring to. In an Executive Committee meeting in March 1986, it was agreed that the issue of compensation should be pursued on an urgent basis. Mr Watters recalled obtaining pro bono legal services, help from the media and various meetings with MPs.

In the course of 1986 the Society sought advice from counsel on whether they could bring a legal claim on behalf of members. The advice given was that it was unlikely as circumstances of individual cases varied. The May 1987 publication of the Haemofact stated the Society’s position was that haemophiliacs who were HIV positive deserved special financial support from the government. A document sent to the government by the Haemophilia Society in October 1987, noted they had explored action through the legal system but compensation claims were unlikely to succeed. The Society was asking for an out of court settlement. Mr Watters said that they likely sent this to increase the urgency of the situation, they viewed it as important to get some kind of settlement. Letters were also shown to Clinicians, such as members of the Medical Advisory Panel, sharing that compensation would be difficult to achieve. Mr Watters agreed that with hindsight, it was odd that the Society was sharing the advice they received with those who could potentially be on the other side of the litigation.

A June 1989 Haemophilia Society Publication, noted a new campaign was being launched to achieve an out of court settlement. The previous campaign had resulted in the Macfarlane Trust, funded with a 10 million pound grant. Mr Watters said the outcome of the first campaign was seen by 1989 as clearly not enough. In an urgent letter to Society Members in 1990, it said the role of the Society was to make it politically expedient for the government to settle the case out of court soon, rather than in 3 or 4 years.

An internal department memo from the Department of Health in 1989 of a call from Mr Watters, claimed he said the sum of 86 million would be necessary for a settlement to be reached. Mr Watters said he had no recollection at all of this claim being made by him. A letter from the Haemophilia society to William Waldegraver in 1990 noted it has been alleged within the Department of Health that the Haemophilia Society had named an acceptable sum for an out of court settlement, but this was not the case. Mr Watters agreed this was his view.


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