A man who was infected with hepatitis C after being given contaminated blood during a surgery has called on the government to publicly apologise.

Raymond Griffiths, of Newmarket, received a transfusion in 1977 while undergoing heart surgery.

Some 30 years later was diagnosed with hepatitis C, a virus usually spread through blood-to-blood contact that can cause serious damage to the liver. 

The 72-year-old is one of the tens of thousands of patients treated by the NHS between 1970 and the early 1990s impacted by the contaminated blood scandal.

In 2018 the government launched the Infected Blood Inquiry and its final report is due on May 20. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Raymond Griffiths, 72 of Newmarket, received a transfusion in 1977 while undergoing heart surgeryRaymond Griffiths, 72 of Newmarket, received a transfusion in 1977 while undergoing heart surgery (Image: Raymond Griffiths)

Mr Griffiths, a former HGV driver, explained: "I went in for a heart operation and came out with hep C.

"We didn't have a clue about the blood scandal at the time. It was only through my diligent doctor, who has retired now, that I got tested.

"I used to be on £1,000 a week when I had my HGV. To be fair to the public I felt unsafe taking painkillers and treatment for hep C so I never renewed my HGV licence.

"The company created a job in the yard for me, but it cost me a lot of money because of this downgrade in wage. It forced my early retirement." 

Mr Griffiths, who has lived in Newmarket since he moved there aged 15 to become an apprentice jockey, said the illness has cost him his marriage and left him taking medication for life. 

"I've had major operations since, not technically due to hep C, but who knows," he said.

"All I know is I have to take pain killers every day, I have had a hip replacement, and now I have arthritis of the knee.

"I was active, I was an ex-apprentice jockey, and now I can't do anything. My deterioration is something else."

East Anglian Daily Times: Campaigners in London in FebruaryCampaigners in London in February (Image: PA)

Mr Griffiths said he is hoping he can help his family out and added that, with the £100,000 given to victims as interim compensation, he gave money to his children and ex-wife. 

Of the compensation, he said: "That is the least of the issues. A public apology would be more than welcome.

Mr Griffiths was also critical of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

East Anglian Daily Times: Mr Griffiths was critical of Prime Minister Rishi SunakMr Griffiths was critical of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Image: PA)

He said: "They have left John Glen [the MP responsible for the infected blood scandal] out to the gallows."

A government spokesperson said: "This was an appalling tragedy, and our thoughts remain with all those impacted.

“We have consistently accepted the moral case for compensation, and that’s why we have tabled an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill which enables the creation of a UK-wide Infected Blood Compensation Scheme and establishes a new arms-length body to deliver it.

"We will continue to listen carefully to those infected and affected about how we address this dreadful scandal.” 

East Anglian Daily Times: Campaign group meeting Sir Kier StarmerCampaign group meeting Sir Kier Starmer (Image: PA)

The government says it has paid more than £400 million in interim compensation payments to those infected or bereaved partners registered with the UK Infected Blood Support Schemes since October 2022. 

It said the Department for Health and Social Care will implement a bespoke psychological service for people infected and affected by infected blood products, delivered by NHS England with the intention that the service will go live in early summer. 

The government will provide an update to Parliament on next steps through an oral statement within 25 sitting days of the Inquiry’s final report being published.