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‘The worst thing you can imagine’: Doctor who treated patients in infected blood scandal speaks out | UK News

Edward Tuddenham is one of the few remaining haemophilia specialists to have treated patients at the beginning of the infected blood scandal in the early 1970s.

To have infected patients with HIV and Hepatitis C in the course of treating them “is the worst thing you can imagine,” he said.

Prof Tuddenham went on to be one of the UK’s leading haematologists, isolating the gene that makes the key “factor 8” protein lacking in many people suffering bleeding disorders.

His discovery led to safe treatments for haemophilia that do not require the use of potentially contaminated donated human blood – the ultimate cause of the infected blood scandal.

But he has been marred by his role in that scandal for nearly his entire career.

At the start of it, he treated haemophilia patients at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

The new treatment at the time was called factor concentrate, made using the key blood clotting factors missing from the blood of haemophiliacs. It was revolutionary.

More on Infected Blood Inquiry

“It was a huge step forward. And convenience, predictability, ability to give the patients a product he could take around with him and treat himself with,” said Prof Tuddenham.

Prior to concentrates becoming available, severe haemophiliacs would often have to be in hospital weekly having transfusions of a donor patient’s blood plasma to control bleeding that could otherwise be fatal.

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Infected blood survivor speaks out

But even in the 1970s, there were concerns about the safety of the new medicines.

Made by concentrating the key clotting factors 8 and 9 from the blood of thousands of donors, any contamination in one would contaminate an entire batch.

The fact the seriousness of that risk was not appreciated at the time haunts his memory.

“The amount of effort that should have gone into inactivating viruses, and which had begun already in the late 1970s and had begun to be effective, simply wasn’t put into it,” he said.

If that effort had been made, thousands of haemophiliacs would not have been infected with hepatitis C which, we now know many of them were during the 1970s and 1980s.

It also would have saved haemophiliacs from a new virus that doctors such as Prof Tudenham unwittingly injected into their veins – HIV.

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Blood scandal ‘the worst thing’

The virus made it into factor concentrates from US blood donors right at the start of the HIV epidemic in the United States in the early 1980s.

New, safer treatments arrived around 1986 but, by then, “it was too late,” said Prof Tuddenham.

‘I was attending funerals all the time’

By this point, Prof Tuddenham had left the clinic to work full time on the genetics of factor 8, work that would lead to far safer, synthetic treatments.

But he kept in touch with former patients.

“I was attending funerals regularly,” he said.

Prof Tuddenham is not a popular figure among the survivors of the infected blood scandal.

He has defended some of his actions at the time, and those of his colleagues, including the decision to conduct trials on children to investigate the effectiveness of new treatments which doctors knew could be contaminated with lethal viruses.

“Of course you couldn’t justify it now. But could you justify then?” he asked.

“A trial in a human was, at the time, the way to distinguish efficacy. But yes, it’s experimental medicine.

“Hindsight, of course, tells us that that led to a lot of people being infected and a lot of people dying as a result. At the time our balance of risk-benefit was seriously misinformed,” said Prof Tuddenham.

“To have caused this in the process of giving treatment is the worse thing you can imagine.”

It’s the job of the infected blood inquiry to decide what may have been acceptable, or even unavoidable at the time, from what was wrong – even by the standards of the day.

The inquiry is due to publish its final report on 20 May.

Met Police roll out facial recognition technology to tackle London’s worst shoplifters | UK News

Britain’s biggest police force is using facial recognition technology to tackle London’s worst shoplifters by matching CCTV stills to mugshots.

The Metropolitan Police said 149 suspects were identified within days after asking the capital’s 12 leading retailers last month for images of their 30 most prolific unidentified offenders.

Some of the suspects have links to serious crime, while all of them have previously been arrested for crimes including drug dealing, sexual offences, burglary, violence and possession of firearms.

Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley called the results “game-changing” as his force tries to crack down on shoplifting, with its rise blamed on the cost of living crisis and organised crime.

The government has come under increasing pressure from retailers to get a grip on the retail crime responsible for the loss of an estimated £1.9bn in revenue in the UK each year.

Earlier this month, policing minister Chris Philp suggested passport photos could be integrated into the police database to find a CCTV match.

Met Police Commissioner Mark Rowley
Met Police Commissioner Mark Rowley. File pic

The Met said its facial recognition technology can match features against police mugshots in about a minute – and officers will now work with stores to build a case against the suspects identified from 302 CCTV stills and track them down.

Sir Mark said: “We’re working with shops across the capital to target and track down criminals in a way we never have before.

“We’re pushing the boundaries and using innovation and technology to rapidly identify criminals.

“The results we’ve seen so far are game-changing. The use of facial recognition in this way could revolutionise how we investigate and solve crime.”

The Met said one in 10 Londoners works in retail with more than 1,000 cases of abuse and violence reported against staff every year.

Sir Mark said the use of facial recognition technology has shown most of the suspects are career criminals involved in serious crime.

“Through this tactic we’re not only improving how we protect shops and support the business community, we’re stepping further forward in identifying and tracking down serious criminals and protecting all of London’s communities,” he said.

“The scale of business crime in London is huge. To be successful we have to be precise in our approach and this is a really promising step forward.”

Read more: Home Office eyeing expansion of ‘Orwellian’ facial recognition

The Met started using the software in August and began the retail pilot in late September.

The force says the facial recognition algorithm has been independently tested through the National Physical Laboratory with an assurance it’s 100% accurate when used retrospectively.

A threat to privacy

But Emmanuelle Andrews, from human rights charity Liberty, said facial recognition technology “has no place on our streets, in our shops – or in any other areas of our lives”.

She added: “This technology threatens our privacy and stifles free speech – and we should all be worried about moves to expand its reach.

“We’re also concerned about the creep of facial recognition technology into other areas of policing.

“Let’s be clear: we cannot rely on tech to solve deep societal problems, this is an unjustified expansion of state surveillance and there are numerous alternatives.”

Around 50,000 shoplifting incidents were reported to the Met last year, estimated to be between 5% and 10% of the offences that are actually committed.

UK’s worst areas for broadband outages revealed – and what to do if yours goes down | Science & Tech News

More than 21 million people have suffered broadband outages of three hours or more over the last year, according to new research.

The number has almost doubled compared to what was reported in Uswitch’s previous annual study into Britain’s internet services, with people said to be becoming increasingly aggrieved by disconnections.

With more employees relying on their broadband to work from home since the pandemic, the company said such outages have overtaken roadworks and public transport delays as one of our biggest collective frustrations.

Uswitch’s report found 15% of people have been prevented from working due to disconnections, and a quarter have been left without internet for almost a full week or more.

The top issues were supplier outages, router problems, and maintenance to external cables.

Uswitch said the number of people affected by outages had risen from around 12 million the previous year to 21.7 million over the last 12 months.

People’s woes were particularly pronounced outside London, with Southampton the worst affected city.

Cities with the worst average internet downtime:

• Southampton – 63 hours

• Newcastle – 57 hours

• Birmingham – 47 hours

• Liverpool – 44 hours

• Nottingham – 33 hours

London’s average broadband outage was less than 14 hours.

The damning findings back up recent research by consumer watchdog Which?, which found more than half of broadband customers continued to face difficulties despite providers hiking prices.

You might need to try turning it off and on again…

‘This is not acceptable’

Ernest Doku, a telecoms expert at Uswitch, said: “This is not acceptable in a cost of living crisis, especially considering the ongoing reliance on home internet for many UK workers.

“It’s also concerning that there seems to be a significant disparity in customer experience between customers in London and those around the country, who have to settle for less.

“The good news is that there is a lot of competition in the broadband market, including smaller, disruptive providers offering faster speeds at competitive prices.”

It comes after a charity warned the poorest in society are having to go without internet, despite it becoming an increasingly essential service.

Among Uswitch’s suggested providers for cheaper deals are Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, and Community Fibre.

But the company’s survey found despite experiencing problems, most people plan to stick with their provider.

Some of the most popular are BT, Virgin Media, EE, and Sky (the owner of Sky News).

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What to do if your internet goes down

For those not keen on changing provider, Uswitch’s report offered advice on what to do if your internet goes down.

• Check your router – sometimes a quick reset (the old turn it off and on again routine) really does work, especially if you’ve not done it for a while.

• Status updates – most major providers have a dedicated page where you can input your postcode to see if your outage might be connected to a wider issue or something on your end.

• Backup plan – if you’re going to be without internet for a while and need it, consider using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot (but make sure your contract supports it).

• Compensation – Uswitch’s survey found most of us don’t bother seeking compensation, but if disconnections are your provider’s fault then you should seek it out if they don’t fix the issue after two working days.

• Speed monitoring – outages are the worst, but slow speeds are super frustrating too. Your provider should be guaranteeing you a minimum so make sure you’re getting it.

Young adults and renters among worst hit by cost of living crisis | Business News

Young adults and renters are some of the groups of people worst hit by rising prices as official figures show around 1 in 20 said they’d run out of food in the past 2 weeks and couldn’t afford more.

People who couldn’t afford food were most likely to be supported by charities, be lone parents and in receipt of benefits or financial help.

Also more likely to struggle to buy food were ethnically diverse people and black, African, Caribbean and black British adults, along with renters and disabled adults.

Those aged 25 to 34 were at greater risk of financial vulnerability than those over the age of 75, the data showed.

Renters were more likely to report difficulty paying housing costs.

While more than a quarter (28%) of mortgage holders said it was difficult to afford their mortgage, 43% of renters reported it was very or somewhat difficult to afford rent.

Compared to mortgage payers, renters were spending less on food and essentials, were more likely to have run out of food and to be behind on energy bills.

Renters spent an average of 21% of their disposable income on rent, compared to 16% of mortgage payers, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Similarly, disabled adults faced greater financial difficulties than non-disabled adults.

The ONS has published analysis on the impact of the cost of living crisis from February to the start of May, before mortgage rates began increasing in earnest.

It analysed the proportion of people affected by price rises, and the characteristics associated with financial vulnerability.

It comes as the government announced public sector pay rises of between 5% and 7% this week and official figures showed wage growth remained at record high of 7.3%, but was still outpaced by inflation.

Almost 30 pregnant sheep killed in one of ‘worst livestock attacks’ in Kent | UK News

More than two dozen pregnant sheep have died after “possibly the worst livestock attack we have ever had”, police in Kent say.

The 27 ewes, some of which were pregnant with twins or triplets, were attacked between Christmas Eve and 1pm on Boxing Day.

A Kent Police spokesman said they believe the attack was carried out by one dog but “cannot rule out” that more dogs may have been involved.

PC Marc Pennicott of the Kent Police rural task force said: “This is a distressing incident which is possibly the worst livestock attack we have ever had.

“The farmer has not only suffered a financial loss due to this incident but animals have needlessly lost their lives.

“These dogs would have been covered in mud and returned home exhausted and we are committed to identifying their owners.

“The remaining livestock have also been left vulnerable to a further attack, so it is extremely important that we find who is responsible for these dogs as quickly as possible.”

The attack happened in a field in Teynham, near Sittingbourne and barking was heard in the area between 4pm and 5pm on Christmas Day, police say.