Monday 22 July 2019

Service's practices comes under the microscope again

Fergus Black

THE data protection scandal currently rocking the Irish Blood Transfusion Service is the latest in a long line of controversies.

The service has struggled to rebuild its image after experiencing decades of problems with contaminated blood, the aftermath of which are ongoing.

The latest revelation about lost data is less serious in its scale, but raises different questions about the service's management.

The State's bill for compensating people who contracted HIV or hepatitis C from contaminated blood products is still growing and is set to reach more than €1bn.

There are more than 1,000 cases still awaiting to be heard by the compensation tribunal which was set up by the Government in 1995.

The infections first became public in 1994, after research revealed a high incidence of hepatitis C among women who received the anti-D product.

Since the scandals, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service said it had been radically changed and overhauled.

But, in July 2002, an alleged incident involving two former members of staff further knocked the IBTS's image.

Cecily Cunningham and Dr Terry Walsh were charged with "unlawfully and maliciously" causing a noxious substance, namely infected anti-D, to be taken by seven women.

Dr Walsh, who was a consultant haematologist and former assistant national director with the blood bank, died in 2006, while last December a stay was put on fixing a trial date for Ms Cunningham.

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