MP raises case of Raunds woman trying to get the best treatment for Hepatitis C in Parliament

Susan Wathen of Raunds
Susan Wathen of Raunds

An MP has spoken in the House of Commons about the case of a woman fighting for the best possible treatment after she contracted Hepatitis C from contaminated blood given to her by the NHS.

Tom Pursglove, MP for Corby and East Northants, highlighted the plight of Sue Wathen from Raunds during a House of Commons debate.

Will Mrs Wathen be able to access the treatment she so desperately needs?

Tom Pursglove MP

Mrs Wathen vowed earlier this year to keep fighting after being told she can’t have the drug she wants after contracting Hepatitis C from contaminated blood given to her by the NHS before 1991.

She may have been infected 30 years ago, but it was only last year that she was diagnosed with the virus that can infect the liver.

If left untreated, it can cause serious and potentially life-threatening damage to the liver over many years.

Since her diagnosis, Mrs Wathen has been fighting to be treated with the Harvoni drug, which is largely symptom-free and has a 90 per cent cure rate.

But despite approval from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which recommends the treatment is funded by NHS England for the majority of Hepatitis C patients, Mrs Wathen has been told she still isn’t eligible.

Speaking in the House of Commons on December 16, Mr Pursglove said: “One of my constituents, Sue Wathen, is trying to access the Harvoni drug, but it is proving incredibly difficult because she has not developed cirrhosis.

“She does, however, have an underlying medical condition that is being exacerbated by the contaminated blood.

“Much is being reported about greater access from February.

“Is that the case and will Mrs Wathen be able to access the treatment she so desperately needs?

“I would love a yes or no answer because it is incredibly frustrating.”

In response, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health Jane Ellison said: “I would never give a yes or no answer to the individual health problems of a constituent I do not know, and I am not a clinician, but if my honourable friend would like to write to me, I will certainly make sure I give an individualised response.

“Ultimately, however, the right clinical route for any one individual would come at the suggestion of their consultant hepatologist.

“Towards the end of November, NICE published new guidelines on three more drug treatments, so the drug landscape for Hepatitis C is changing rapidly, but I am happy to ensure that honourable members are kept fully informed.

“As I said in a previous debate, if people are concerned that their constituents are not aware of what is out there or do not feel they are getting the support they need to access treatment in line with the NICE guidance, we can offer advice to members on how to make sure that happens.

“However, I am well aware of the general point he makes.”

Speaking afterwards, Mrs Wathen said: “As it stands I am not due to be seen by hepatology until March 7, meanwhile my life is on hold and I shall keep fighting.”