Infected Blood Inquiry

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The taintedblood Timeline  -  what really happened...

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Magna Carta - 15th June, 1215

 
No of entries selected: 12 of 711
1974
Dr. David Owen, Secretary of State for Health - Announcement of Several Million Allocated
Dr David Owen decides that if enough money is invested, the UK can become self-sufficient and blood would then come only from British sources and would be much more likely to not be contaminated.

David Owen announces in the House of Commons that several million pounds has been allocated - but the initiative does not follow through as there is considerable resistance in the Department of Health against putting in the money.

Source:
Type: Decision
Location: UK
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circ
a 1975
David Owen - Money Apportioned-Off for Protection of Haemophiliacs is Diverted
Money that is apportioned off for the protection of haemophiliacs is "diverted to other purposes". (Former Health Minister, Lord Owen speaking with reference to 1975, on the BBC's "Face the Facts" programme in August 2001).
Source: Link #1
Type: House of Lords Hansard
Location: UK
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1975
22 January
David Owen Announces Programme to make UK Self-sufficient in Blood Products
On 22 January 1975, Dr David Owen as a Minister in the Department of Health and Social Security, announces to the House a programme to make the UK self-sufficient in blood products, particularly Factor VIII.
Source: Link #1
Type: House of Commons Hansard
Location: UK
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1975
6 March
Dr David Owen - Intention of the Allocated Half-Million for BPL
In a government Written Answer from 6 March, 1975, it clearly shows David Owen's intention for the pledged 500,000 to increase production, not to increase donations; which is where it eventually ended up:

Dr David Owen: "As I told my hon Friend the Member for Sowerby on 17 February, I have authorised the allocation of special finance of up to 0.5m (about half of which would be recurring) to increase the existing production of AHG concentrate within the National Health Service with the aim of the NHS becoming self-sufficient as soon as possible" (final paragraph)

Note: This demonstrates government maladministration as the 500,000 was in fact used by the RTC, leaving BPL Elstree short-changed. The DHSS should have insisted on the extra money being allocated to its intended purpose - which was to fight this threat to public safety.

Source:
Type: Recovered Document - Hansard - Written Answer. 6 March 1975.
Location: UK
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1975
22 April
Dr David Owen - Pledge - Self-sufficiency
David Owen repeats that pledge of making the UK self-sufficient; when he said it, he had hoped that it would be done in 2 to 3 years.
Source: Link #1
Type: House of Commons Hansard
Location: UK
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1976
29 April
Dr David Owen - World Federation of Haemophilia - Speech
In a speech to the World Federation Haemophilia Congress, David Owen repeats the self-sufficiency pledge again, where he states that we hoped to be self-sufficient in blood products by mid-1977, he was not speaking in the House, so that statement did not bind successive Governments.

Note: The Government is, however, responsible for the two earlier pledges that were given in the House. The targets are not achieved and the UK is still not self-sufficient in blood products.

Source: Link #1
Type: House of Commons Hansard
Location: UK
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1976
29 April
Dr David Owen - Self-Sufficiency - Intended Use of Half Million
In a DHSS memo entitled "UK Aims to be Self-Sufficient in Supply of Blood Products", the following is stated by Dr. David Owen:

"Following a special allocation of 500,000 last year substantial progress was now being made in building up production capacity in the NHS, and self-sufficiency in home-produced Factor VIII was expected to be reached in mid-1977." (paragraph 3)

Note: The half million, (intended for building up capacity within the NHS) was, in fact, NOT used for building-up production capacity for self-sufficiency and instead ended up being paid out to increase the amount of people donating blood in the UK.

Source:
Type: Recovered Document - DHSS Memo
Location: UK
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1980
22 December
Dr Peter Jones / Dr David Owen - World in Action - Underfunding of BPL
The condition and lack of funding of BPL Elstree is discussed at length in ITV's World in Action in December 1980. The following comments are particularly worth noting:

Dr David Owen MP, then Minister of Health acknowledges that no government has put enough money in to BPL: "Well, I don't think we've invested enough. I thought then, on the best evidence that I had, I think it was 500,000 that we found, was going to be sufficient. But what has happened is that although we have increased, as I gather at production, demand increased as well. I left, ceased to be Minister of Health and went to the Foreign Office in 1976, but I think what has been needed is a steady investment, and not just into Blood Products Laboratory, but also into the regional blood transfusion services which have been starved of money." (page 2, paragraph 4)

Dr Peter Jones: "What should have been put in is something more in the region of 25 million..." (page 4, paragraph 2)

Reporter [with reference to hepatitis]: "Research has shown that haemophiliacs are TEN times more likely to contract the disease if they use commercial imports, rather than National Health Service material." (page 11, paragraph 6)

Reporter's Closing Comment: "The Department says there's no money available. That means hospitals will spend millions more on imports, patients will risk the consequences of skid row blood and Britain will become increasingly dependent on the world blood market." (page 16)

Source: (16 pages, 3.66MB)
Type: Recovered Document - Transcript of World in Action - ITV - 22 December, 1980
Location: UK
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1982
Dr David Owen - House was Told in 1975 that UK would be Self-sufficient
David Owen: "When I said that we hoped to be self-sufficient in blood products by mid-1977, I was not speaking in the House, so that that statement did not bind successive Governments. But we are all responsible for the two earlier pledges that were given in the House."

"The targets were not achieved and we are still not self-sufficient in blood products. I was told by a Minister of the present Government that they made the decision to be self-sufficient in 1982. Was Baroness Trumpington unaware that the House had already been told in 1975 that Britain would be self-sufficient? What happened? ...."

Source: Link #1
Type: Commons Hansard
Location: UK
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1987
17 November
David Owen Letter - Concern as to How Haemophiliac HIV Situation Occurred
In a letter to the Rt. Hon John Moore MP, then Secretary of State for Health, David Owen states the following:

"I am glad to see that you have made an ex-gratia payment for haemophiliacs who, as a result of transfusion, find themselves HIV positive."

"What concerns me however is how this situation has been allowed to occur. I note that in Hansard 393 on 22 January 1975, I said "I believe it is vitally important that the National Health Service should become self-sufficient as soon as practicable in the production of Factor VIII, including AHG concentrates"."

"On 22 April in a written answer I was even more explicit "l hope that the National Health Service can become self-sufficient in the production of all forms of Factor VIII within two or three years". The same answer was very much reiterated on 8 July (column 108).

"I would be grateful if you could let me know what happened to the extra money that was allocated to the regional transfusion centres, and why they did not become self-sufficient. I think I should in fairness warn you that I have it in mind to refer the issue to the Ombudsman on grounds of maladministration unless I receive a satisfactory explanation."

Source:
Type: Letter dated 17th November 1987. David Owen writing to the Rt. Hon John Moore MP, then Secretary of State for Health
Location: UK
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1988
February
David Owen, MP - Commissioner's Refusal to Investigate
Lord Owen first complained on behalf of a constituent to the Ombudsman's predecessor, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, in 1988. He was then MP for Plymouth Devonport. He said health officials should have admitted to subsequent Ministers that the target of self-sufficiency could not be met without more money. But the Commissioner would not investigate, saying that parliamentary answers Dr Owen had given in 1975 did not suggest the risk of contamination had been a major factor.
Source: James Meikle, Health Correspondent, Guardian, Monday August 19, 2002
Type: National Press Article
Location: UK
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2002
19 August
Lord Owen - Private Office Papers Inexplicably Pulped
Lord Owen said that in 1988 he had been unable to give evidence of his personal view that the source of donors was unreliable because his private office papers had "for some inexplicable reason been pulped." But the decision for self-sufficiency was never made only to save money.
Source: Additional Source:
Link #2
Type: Statement - Press Article
Location: UK
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