‘Little involvement’ of parents in pupils’ treatment, blood inquiry told

The Infected Blood Inquiry (PA Archive)
15:02pm, Mon 21 Jun 2021
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Parents who sent their children to a specialist school where disabled pupils were given infected blood products were not given details of the treatment their sons were receiving, an inquiry has heard.

Several pupils who attended the Lord Mayor Treloar College, a boarding school in Hampshire, in the 1970s and 1980s were given treatment for haemophilia at an on-site NHS centre while receiving their education.

But it was later found that many pupils with the condition, which has no cure and impairs the body’s ability to make blood clots, had been given blood products, such as plasma, which were infected with hepatitis and HIV.

Out of 89 children who attended the school in the 1980s, less than a quarter of former pupils are still alive.

The Infected Blood Inquiry an independent probe into the thousands of people who were infected with HIV and hepatitis after receiving blood transfusions in the 1970s and 1980s, began its hearings into the school on Monday.

In the first day of evidence involving the Lord Mayor Treloar College, Jenni Richards QC read out several extracts of letters dated from the 1970s.

The letters, read aloud and shown on screen, were communications between doctors who treated the children in their hometowns, the headmaster of the school at the time or the haemophilia centre at the school.

Ms Richards also read out extracts of statements given to the inquiry by parents or relatives of pupils who attended.

It’s very much a dialogue undertaken both at an early stage ... and then throughout the boys’ attendance at the school between the clinicians, with little involvement of parents ...

“Close contact was usually maintained between the centre and the school, and the home centre, and there are many examples of detailed letters being written, for example, by Dr Aronstam (a consultant haematologist at the centre) to the treating clinician explaining what bleeds there had been in a term, what treatment there had been, making suggestions or recommendations for treatments during holidays when the responsibility would rest with the home haemophilia clinician,” the lawyer told the inquiry.

“What’s striking is the absence of any similar or equivalent communications to parents. It’s very much a dialogue undertaken both at an early stage, as we’ve seen through these materials, and then throughout the boys’ attendance at the school between the clinicians, with little involvement of parents that we have been unable to detect from the documents and written statements we have received.”

The Lord Mayor Treloar College, which has since been rebranded as Treloar’s, was established in 1908 as a school which gave disabled children a better chance to receive an education alongside any medical treatment they might need.

It was originally a boys’ school but then merged with a girls’ school in 1978 to become co-educational.

From 1956, boys with haemophilia began attending the school. After it was discovered pupils had been given infected blood plasma, the NHS clinic at the school closed.

This is a matter of great sorrow to us and we will continue to support the campaign for answers. It is our hope that the public inquiry into the use of infected blood products will finally establish the facts

Throughout this week, the inquiry will hear evidence from former pupils, a parent of a former pupil and the former headteacher at the Lord Mayor Treloar College.

A statement from Treloar’s said it was “completely supportive of the campaign for truth, answers and justice by our former pupils”.

It added: “The students who attended, and were harmed, at the NHS clinic in the 1970s and 1980s are from a school community which is very close and where lifelong bonds are formed.

“This is a matter of great sorrow to us and we will continue to support the campaign for answers. It is our hope that the public inquiry into the use of infected blood products will finally establish the facts.”

The Infected Bloody Inquiry began in 2018 and its final report is expected to be published in 2022 or 2023.

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