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Contaminated blood victim calls for more support for those caught up in scandal

PUBLISHED: 16:42 01 February 2019 | UPDATED: 19:04 01 February 2019

Michelle Tolley had blood transfusions twice when she was pregnant in the 1980s and got diabetes by the 1990s. Six months ago was she diagnosed with HCV (hepatitis C virus). Picture: Archant

Michelle Tolley had blood transfusions twice when she was pregnant in the 1980s and got diabetes by the 1990s. Six months ago was she diagnosed with HCV (hepatitis C virus). Picture: Archant

A Norfolk victim of the contaminated blood scandal has called for more support for those who have suffered.

Michelle Tolley was one of thousands of people in the 1970s and 1980s who were given blood products infected with hepatitis viruses and HIV.

An inquiry into the scandal launched in September, with representatives coming to Norwich in March to gather views.

But in the meantime campaigners have called for better financial and moral support for victims and their families.

Mrs Tolley, 53 and from Sparham, was one of a number of campaigners who met with health minister Jackie Doyle-Price and cabinet office minister David Lidington on January 21.

She said they called for better financial support for victims, without disparity across borders, as well as help for those bereaved.

Mrs Tolley said: “I know some people who have had to go to food banks. There are some very, very vulnerable people out there. No one should financially suffer, it’s not our fault. I would love to go back to work but I’ve got no choice. That was taken away from me, and I said to them I’ve been given a death sentence.”

It comes as Clive Smith, chairman of the trustees at the Haemophilia Society, wrote to Mr Lidington to warn the “severe lack of financial resources” available.

He said “people whose lives have been torn apart by this scandal are being asked to relive feelings of grief and hurt by the inquiry, but are being left to deal with the resulting cascade of emotions by themselves” as just six hours a week of psychological support was offered via telephone “to be shared between everyone affected by the inquiry”.

Mrs Tolley said the group she was part of had asked for action by April 30, when the inquiry hearings start.

She added: “I just hope that I’m alive by the time it’s finished, because we’ve already lost some. Over 100 people have died in the year, we’re dropping like flies.

Mrs Tolley gave the example of Steve Dymond, from Kent, who died in December. She said: “It’s almost like we’re living on borrowed time.”

• The Infected Blood Inquiry will visit Norwich on March 12. For more information, visit bit.ly/2BfMkdL or for support visit the Contaminated Whole blood UK Facebook page at bit.ly/2G39mZt

Have you been affected by the contaminated blood scandal? Email geraldine.scott@archant.co.uk or call 01603 772446.

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