Fears over `reeling' blood bank

 

THE former chief medical officer of the Department of Health, Dr Niall Tierney, told the tribunal of enquiry that information concerning a second source of infected anti-D was not disclosed publicly in 1994 as "the blood bank was reeling at the time".

He suggested that "to keeping leaking ... I don't mean leaking ... to keep letting out information like this, which further challenged and damaged the blood bank, would have weakened it at the same time (while) screening was under way".

He agreed with Mr Thomas Finlay that "the Minister had put out a fair warning" on the issue (by advising all anti-D recipients since 1970 to be tested).

As to whether any consideration had been given to the situation of GPs dealing with patients who had received anti-D after 1993, "would it not have been valuable information?" asked Mr Finlay. Dr Tierney agreed, "yes, but we were anxious for every woman (who had received anti-D since 1970) to come forward for testing".

He agreed, as disclosed by the Minister, that all BTSB statements issued at the time were first approved by the Department of Health.

Regarding meetings at the Department from February 17th to 21st, he said he was informed of events "with everybody else," with the secretary or Minister making final decisions. When he was asked advice it was "as part of the group". He had delegated responsibility for dealing with the scandal to Department colleague, Dr Rosemary Boothman.

He dismissed suggestions by Mr John Rogers, counsel for Positive Action and the McCole family, that Dr Boothman's loyalties may have been divided between the BTSB and the Department "after the revelations of 1994".