This week, David Watters, former general secretary of The Haemophilia Society from 1981 – 1994, is giving evidence to the Infected Blood Inquiry.
Mr Watters worked for The Haemophilia Society during an exceptionally difficult and traumatic period for our community, as the appalling scale of the contaminated blood scandal emerged in the 1980s.
It is already a matter of public record that during the 1980s The Haemophilia Society issued information based on expert advice from the UK’s leading haemophilia clinicians. With hindsight, it is clear the leadership and trustees of The Haemophilia Society were misled and, as a result, unwittingly further contributed to the scandal. However, we accept that our actions and statements at the time, while well-intentioned and based on expert medical opinion, have subsequently been shown to be damaging to the community and wrong. For this we have unreservedly apologised and do so again now. We deeply regret the hurt, pain and anger this has caused.
Today our thoughts are with the 4,689 people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders who were infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses as a result of NHS treatment with contaminated blood products. More than 3,000 people from our community have now died because of this scandal, yet not a penny of compensation has ever been paid nor has anyone been held to account over what happened.
We want the inquiry to expose the truth behind this scandal and deliver long overdue justice for our community. More than anything, we hope this process brings an understanding and acknowledgement of the pain and suffering this treatment disaster continues to cause.
Mr Watters’ evidence forms only part of the inquiry’s investigations into the role of The Haemophilia Society and we look forward to playing our full part when the second stage takes place after Easter.
We would like to thank Mr Watters for giving evidence this week and for his professionalism and compassion during his time with The Haemophilia Society.
CEO, The Haemophilia Society