A DISTRAUGHT widow whose husband contracted HIV and Hepatitis C in a blood scandal is being forced to sell her south Warwickshire home after funding support stopped following his death.
Paul Hooper, from Kineton, was one of the 5,000 British haemophilia patients infected with HIV, Hepatitis C, or both, when given contaminated blood products by the NHS.
Between 1972 and 1985 blood was sourced from prisons in America and not screened correctly. It left thousands of men – who can only be affected by haemophilia – with long-term health problems and since then more than half of those affected have died.
In December 53-year-old Paul lost his battle with the illnesses.
Now his widow Liz – who works part-time at a local livery yard, alongside caring for her elderly, disabled mum – says all government funding, of which they were receiving around £3,000 a month, has stopped and she has been forced to put the family home on the market.
The 53-year-old mum-of-one, who was also Paul’s carer, said: “Paul would be devastated. He was a man who wanted to do the best for me and provide for me. He was desperate to survive so our mortgage could be paid off and I would be secure in this home.
“If government hadn’t contaminated Paul with this illness he would still be here and neither of us would be in this situation. He was a haemophiliac and could have lived with that. They contaminated him and took him away from me.
“We bought this house to grow old in and now it’s going and I can’t stop it.”
Paul claimed support through the English Infected Blood Support Scheme (EIBSS) and since his death Liz has been told to re-apply to see if she is entitled to funding.
Campaign group Tainted Blood – which is hoping a public inquiry into the scandal will soon begin – say better support is needed than the existing scheme.
A spokeswoman told the Observer: “While we wait for the lengthy administrative steps to be completed so the public inquiry can begin, the ‘silent scandal’ continues away from the public eye.
“The Department of Health continues to force the victims it created into poverty, misery and social exclusion, At least one more English widow has lost her husband, therefore her incomes and home.
“It is totally unacceptable that innocent victims of the ‘worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS’ are obliged to depend on ex gratia ‘schemes and benefits.”
The NHS Business Services Authorities, which runs the support scheme, said help was available.
A spokesman said: “We offer a range of support to spouses after their partner’s death, including a lump sum payment, help with funeral costs and means tested income top-ups.
“If a person requires continued help, the deadline for applications is July 11. New applications can be made at any point.”
Visit www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk for more information about the scheme.