Anger over delay in NHS introducing new hepatitis C treatment

CAMPAIGNER Jackie Britton of Portchester contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion
CAMPAIGNER Jackie Britton of Portchester contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion

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A WOMAN who contracted hepatitis C from contaminated blood in a transfusion says she is angry the NHS is stalling over introducing a new treatment. A WOMAN who contracted hepatitis C from contaminated blood in a transfusion says she is angry the NHS is stalling over introducing a new treatment.

Jackie Britton, 52, of Portchester, had a transfusion 32 years ago, during childbirth, and was diagnosed with hepatitis C in June 2011, due to this blood.

Jackie, like scores of other patients, thought sofosbuvir, which was approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) in February, would be available in April.

However the drug will not be available until August so NHS England has time to create networks, made up of doctors, patients and commissioners, across the country to ensure there is a consistent standard.

Jackie said: ‘I’m refusing to die quietly and am so angry.

‘David Cameron apologised to victims in March, but that means nothing because of this delay.’

The Contaminated Blood Campaign group said its members wrote to health minister Jane Ellison earlier this year pleading for treatment.

The group said it received replies stating treatment would be available in April for all patients with liver cirrhosis and, it would be available to all suffering from hepatitis C by the end of the year.

NHS England said £38m was made available in the last financial year to pay for the drug to be used on patients who were at risk of liver failure.

But those not at that stage will have to wait.

A spokesman said: ‘We welcome the agreement from Nice to grant us the time to allow formal clinical networks for hepatitis C to be established for people to have equal care access. We will be publishing those plans in due course.

‘We have been operating an interim commissioning policy on these drugs while Nice has been considering its guidelines, ensuring those in the greatest need have been able to access these treatments, to cure patients at risk of liver failure.’