Campaigners have praised a regional newspaper after a public inquiry condemned the importation of infected blood into the UK.
In 2000, Newcastle daily The Journal teamed up with Haemophilia Action UK to launch ‘Bad Blood’ and demand an inquiry into why and how contaminated blood products were allowed into Britain.
Nearly 2,000 haemophiliacs, 78 in the North East region, have died as a result of exposure to contaminated blood, some of which came from American prisoners.
Leading medical expert Lord Winston called it “the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS”.
The Government has just published the results of a two-year inquiry with one campaigner saying Bad Blood was a major factor in forcing the report.
Carol Grayson, from Newcastle, lost her husband Peter Longstaff in 2005 aged just 47 after he’d been given blood contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C.
She told The Journal: “My husband never lost faith that this day would come.
“I’m pleased with most of the recommendations that are in the report, I do think they are very positive.
“The Journal played a vital role in securing the inquiry. When this was seen as a dead issue in the late 90s Louella Houldcroft took it up as an issue and challenged this when no-one else would look at this.
“It was then picked up by the nationals. This shows the importance of regional newspapers in campaigning.”
The campaign was run by The Journal’s then health correspondent Louella Houldcroft, now media relations manager at Newcastle University.
She said: “No-one could have envisaged it would take so long to get a result. I think what struck me at the time was the strength of the evidence.
“Thousands of people had died as a result of treatment that was supposed to make them better and there was clear documentation about where it had come from.
“But despite the evidence no-one was listening to these patients and their families.
“What they needed most was answers and The Journal took up the campaign for a public inquiry in a bid to get those answers.
“Peter and Carol were a tremendous strength and without them the campaign wouldn’t have gathered such momentum. It’s sad that Peter could not be here to see this result.”