Raunds woman to keep fighting for Hepatitis C drug after being given contaminated blood

Susan Wathen of Raunds
Susan Wathen of Raunds

A woman has vowed 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.

Susan Wathen of Raunds 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.

She said: “I spoke to the Hepatitis nurse and she said I don’t qualify because I am not ill enough, I am so angry.

“I had an appointment with the consultant a couple of months ago and she said to me that she hoped that I would be able to be treated with this.

“The NHS are supposed to be funding this, but they are still putting restrictions on it saying that you have to have Hepatitis C or end stage liver disease.”

Hepatitis C is often associated with drug addicts and alcoholics, but while Mrs Wathen doesn’t have a problem with those groups being treated with the new drug, she feels the NHS owes her after giving her contaminated blood.

She was hoping the latest development with Harvoni would mean she could have the drug, but her hopes have been dashed.

Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Tom Pursglove has been trying to help Mrs Wathen, but she is going to need his support even more as she vows to get the treatment she feels she deserves.

She said: “I was given this by the NHS, they have acknowledged the fact that they gave it to me, but they are not prepared to do anything to treat me with the best possible treatment.”

She added: “The treatment that I want is the treatment that is out there, but it is not widely available.

“Let’s have Harvoni out there for everybody. I feel like I am a victim twice over, I am a victim of the contaminated blood scandal and then a victim of NHS England restricting the treatment.

“The only thing I can do is carry on fighting. If I manage to get the treatment for my underlying condition which should push me up the food chain for access, then I will carry on fighting for others like me who are victims of contaminated blood.”