Portsmouth victims calls for justice ahead of inquiry into NHS blood scandal

Alan Vickers with a photo of his late wife Sally
Alan Vickers with a photo of his late wife Sally

WE ARE carrying on our fight for justice for Sally.

That is the rallying call from the husband and a close friend of Sally Vickers who died last summer after contracting hepatitis C from contaminated blood in a transfusion when she was a teenager.

The 56-year-old had been campaigning for answers before her death along with fellow sufferer and victim Jackie Britton.

Ahead of the start of an inquiry into the NHS blood scandal which saw thousands of people affected, Sally’s husband Alan, from Landport, in Portsmouth, has vowed to get justice for his wife and every victim.

On Monday the preliminary hearings of the Infected Blood Inquiry, chaired by High Court judge Sir Brian Langstaff, will start getting evidence from victims and their families.

Mr Vickers, 60, said: ‘I want to know everything now, I need answers as to why I lost my wife. We want someone to be held accountable for what happened.

‘Sally should have lived a longer life. It is too late for her to get justice but there are thousands of others who deserve it.

‘That is why I continue to fight. We will get justice for Sally and everyone else.

‘She wasn’t someone to just sit by, she was fighting alongside Jackie and we will carry on that fight.’

Mr Vickers and Jackie will be travelling to London to attend a commemorative service and start of the inquiry.

Both will be giving evidence as part of the hearings.

Jackie, from Portchester, had a blood transfusion during childbirth 35 years ago but was not diagnosed with hepatitis C until 2011.

She met Sally during a radio interview about treatments for people with the condition and both worked together to campaign for answers.

Jackie said: ‘When Sally died, it really hit home to me that it could have been me. Every six months we have to have tests to see if we have cancer – she understood what it was like to go through that.

‘She is one of many to have died, that is why we have all continued to fight.

‘Sally will be looking down on me and Alan and she will be proud. She was such an amazing person.

‘I have said from the beginning, and it has been reinforced by Sally’s death, until the government put their hands up and accept what they have done I am going to my grave kicking and screaming.

‘It is for all the people that have lost their voices already.’

Sally had blood transfusions when she was a teenager but only found that tainted blood had given her hepatitis C in 2005.

Since then, she took various medication to help with the condition but in August last year, she was diagnosed with liver cancer caused by the hepatitis C virus.

Over the course of the following week the cancer spread and she sadly died nine days after the cancer diagnosis.

Mr Vickers added: ‘On the Wednesday she was told she had months to live, eight days later it was weeks and then she passed away the next day.

‘She was a bubbly, larger than life person. She was a helpful person and Sal wanted to help anyone she could.

‘That is why she worked with Jackie about the blood scandal. Despite everything she was going through, she wanted to raise awareness.

‘Sal was always fighting.’

Jackie said the preliminary hearings for the Infected Blood Inquiry is giving everyone affected hope that they will get some answers.

‘This is something we have been pushing for,’ she said.

‘It is unbelievable to think that so many people still don’t know they could be affected by what happened. This is not only about answers but raising awareness and getting the word out there.’

The victims of the scandal are both people with the blood-clotting disorder haemophilia and people like Sally and Jackie who had transfusions.

Jackie has been travelling meetings to ensure ‘whole bloods’ are represented.

She added: ‘We make up about 50 per cent of cases but a lot of people don’t realise.

‘This is about getting justice for everyone involved and I am confident having met with members of the inquiry that it will be fair and do that.’

For more information on the Infected Blood Inquiry visit infectedbloodinquiry.org.uk