'Missing patients' in Hep C infection risk
NHS patients may be unaware they have contracted hepatitis C through blood transfusions, Scottish health officials admitted yesterday.
The health minister, Andy Kerr, agreed to look into whether more had to be done to trace such people.
His comments came amid conflicting messages from the Executive over whether they could be found. A senior health official said not all of an estimated 3,000 who may have been affected could be traced through records.
Mr Kerr said later that checks had been carried out, but that they may not have identified one-off donors.
The confusion arose as the minister and the health official, Andrew Macleod, gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament's health committee.
Mr Macleod said that if someone contracted hepatitis C, then clinicians would look into the cause. He said: "It could have happened through blood products, it could have happened through blood transfusion, it could have happened for another reason.
"My understanding would be you can't be absolutely sure about why it's happened."
When the committee convener, Roseanna Cunningham, asked him if the 3,000 who received blood transfusions could be traced through NHS records in Scotland, Mr Macleod replied: "My understanding is no."
But the comments were later disputed by the Executive, which said that once the screening of blood donations for hepatitis C was put in place, there was a "look back exercise" undertaken by UK blood services in 1995.
The Executive said the move was not capable of identifying everyone infected by blood products, as some infected donors who gave blood before the screening process came into force would not have come forward again.
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