The lone recommendation of the Penrose Inquiry final report was that Hepatitis C testing should be offered to individuals who may have been exposed to Hepatitis C via blood or blood products before September 1991, who have not already been tested.
Our CEO, Dan Farthing-Sykes, served on a Short-Life Working Group, commissioned by Scottish Government which estimated the numbers of living undiagnosed people and recommend any further action that should be taken to try to identify them. In its report, the Short-Life Working Group recommended a targeted awareness campaign to encourage those who may have had a blood transfusion before September 1991 to come forward for testing. It is estimated that 32 people who received a blood transfusion in Scotland before September 1991 were infected with Hepatitis C and are still alive and have not yet been tested.
A public information notice was launched today (10th of October) to encourage the undiagnosed group to come forward for advice and testing if they have not done so already. Around 400,000 posters and leaflets are being distributed to GP surgeries, hospitals, care homes, pharmacies and other community buildings across Scotland. The Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood has also sent a letter to clinicians to remind them of the need to offer Hepatitis C tests to certain at-risk groups. A different approach is being developed to trace any potential cases of people with bleeding disorders.
Anyone who knows, or suspects they may have received a blood transfusion before 1 September 1991, and thinks they might be at risk, should call the Hepatitis helpline on 0800 22 44 88 or speak to their GP practice.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said:
The working group which we established to look into this estimated that the number of people infected with Hepatitis C via transfusion who have still not been diagnosed will be very small. However, it is possible there may be some people with mild symptoms who are living with this illness and don’t know it. There have been efforts to trace them in the past, but we want to make sure that everything possible is done to find those still undiagnosed.
The good news is that treatments for Hepatitis C have advanced enormously in recent years, so it really is vital that people come forward.
The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to do all we can to help the people affected by this terrible chapter in the history of our health service. We remain the only country in the UK to have held a full public inquiry and I’m proud that we are taking steps to improve the financial support available to those infected, and their families.