The taintedblood Timeline - what really happened...
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In the USA, blood collectors refuse to take blood donations from GI's until at least 2 years have elapsed since visiting the Far East and then only after blood tests have been completed.
It is reported by all Directors present that sessions were held in penal institutions in all regions.
"ĚThe group considered this practice to be highly questionable because of the incidence of homosexuals and homosexual activity in prisons and the present unease about the incidence of AIDS among this group of people. The Group asked to be advised of Departmental policy on the practice of collecting and using blood from borstals and prisons."Ě
Note: We have now found definite proof that prison blood was being used by Scottish and English Transfusion Centres. We are concerned to learn that Blood Transfusions Centres in Scotland were taking blood from borstal and prison sources and at least some of the English Blood Transfusions Centres were also receiving blood from these sources.
Background: We should point out that serious concerns were raised in the UK in 1980 over the safety of using blood from Scottish prisoners in NHS transfusions - and this was hardly the first warning. There were international warnings from as early as 1958, from Dr. J. Garrott Allen, who after having conducted a survey in the Chicago area, discovered what he referred to as the "prison effect"Ě.
We are dismayed to learn that blood was taken from UK prisons and borstal institutions right up until March 1984 - well after prisoners were considered to be high-risk donors. WHY did the Authorities persist with taking blood from prisons?
The following is a quote from a document released under FOI: "Furthermore it is socially and psychologically undesirable to exclude prisoners and volunteers from tropical areas from the donor population. Acceptance of prisoners as donors helps to rehabilitate, and some of these volunteers become regular donors after their release."
- Question: "When and why did it end and what were the circumstances?"
- Answer: "The last collections in penal institutions were in January 1984 in prisons and in March 1984 in Young Offender Institutions. This followed comments made by the Medicines Inspectorate as well as discussions by the Transfusion Directors."
Note: What he fails to mention in the above is that the Medicines Inspectors commented adversely on the collection of prison blood as far back as 1982. These concerns were then reiterated after further SNBTS inspections, also stating the reasons as to why it was not a good idea. The problem was mentioned again in BBC's Frontline Scotland: "Blood and Tears" in June 2005 when a certain Professor, working for the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, was asked if it was a good idea to take blood from prisoners, and he circumnavigated the issue by repeating to Eleanor Bradford that they "phased it out". It should be noted that this 'phasing out' rather astonishingly took 2 years to do.
He also fails to mention that the Home Office was warned of the dangers of AIDS in prisons in December 1983 and again in January 1984 by the Assistant Secretary for the Prison Officers Association - we know this from another document released under FOI.
Background: According to documentation released under FOI, it appears that discontinuing the collection of blood from prisons was going to cause considerable problems for the English and Welsh Health Authorities; as they would not be able to meet their annual blood quotas. (Source: FOI document).
It seems, therefore, that collecting blood from prisons was not just to help the prisoners feel good, the Authorities needed the blood for the repeated attempts at achieving the much-promised self-sufficiency.
Additional Source: BBC Frontline Scotland - Blood and Tears (2005)
Type: Letter, also BBC Frontline Scotland (June 2005)
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Here is a list of just some of the ignored warnings regarding UK prison blood:
- In 1958, there was an early warning from a respected international source. Dr. J. Garrott Allen discovered what he referred to as the "prison effect" after conducting a survey in the Chicago area.
- In 1980 we know that blood from Scottish prisoners was used in NHS transfusions despite serious concerns being raised.
- Then in 1983, the Medicines Inspector commented adversely on the practice of collecting blood from prisons and borstal institutions.
- By July 1983, the Medicines Division's Inspection Action Group had expressed serious concerns about the collection and use of blood from borstal institutions and prisons.
Note: We are appalled to learn that the practice of blood collection from UK prisons and borstal institutions continued right up until March 1984 - well after prisoners were considered to be high-risk donors.
Type: Possible Date for the Cessation of the Practice of Blood Collection from UK Prisons & Borstal Institutions. Circa March 1984.
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