A BRADFORD clinician gave an emotional apology after a day of evidence at the Infected Blood Inquiry.

It was established to examine the circumstances in which patients treated by the NHS in the 1970s and 1980s received infected blood and/or blood products. The scandal is believed to have led to an estimated 2,400 deaths and has been described as “the greatest treatment disaster in the history of the NHS” by former High Court judge Sir Brian Langstaff, who is chairing the inquiry.

Many contaminated blood victims had haemophilia, a blood-clotting disorder, and relied on regular injections of clotting agent Factor VIII, which was made from pooling human blood plasma.

Britain was running low on supplies of Factor VIII so imported products from the US, where prison inmates and others were paid cash for giving blood.

Professor Liakat Parapia, who was a consultant at the Bradford Haemophilia Centre from 1982 to 2009, appeared before the hearing this week.

Prof Parapia said the treatment was given with the “best intentions” and said he was sorry for what had happened.

He told the hearing that one treatment for haemophilia, cryoprecipitate, “wasn’t the best” and when he first arrived at the centre it was used almost exclusively, but said “because we were using cryoprecipitate there were a lot of centres that were thinking that Bradford was an inferior place that didn’t keep up with the times”. He said Factor VIII “revolutionised” haemophilia care, allowing them to have a normal lifespan in the 1980s, compared to 30 years before. However, he said there were “mixed messages” about its use amid reports the product was being infected and they were waiting for instruction or guidance.

Prof Parapia said they were “only minions in a big cog” and “with better leadership from whatever source we may have saved some cases. Not all. We may have done better than we did”.

In a witness statement to the inquiry, Prof Parapia said that when once he knew there might be an association between infection and blood products “we discontinued using blood products that we felt had the possible risks of infections of HIV or Hepatitis C”.

Sir Langstaff asked Prof Parapia: “You must have asked yourself: here am I responsible for the treatment, which they are giving, they are having, about a third end up with infection from the treatment, one way or the other, how did it happen?”

Prof Parapia said he changed practice when he was appointed at the centre, brought commercial Factor VIII in, and “without knowing it I’m responsible for infecting them”.

Prof Parapia said “all I can say is I’m sorry” and speaking at the end of his evidence, he told the inquiry: “I think it’s just sad what’s happened. It shouldn’t have happened. I’ve lost a lot of people I knew.”

Eileen Burkert’s father, Ted, was a haemophiliac and was infected with HIV and Hepatitis C through Factor treatment. He died in 1992 at the age of 54.

His family have previously given evidence at the inquiry.

Miss Burkert, originally from Queensbury, said the apology had “meant so much” but: “It does not make it right”.

She said it had been an emotional day and added: “At the end of this, I hope we get some proper truth and justice for the people that have died and for the people that are still here and suffering.”