Did you receive a blood transfusion before September 1991?


A Short-Life Working Group was commissioned by Scottish Government to estimate the numbers of living undiagnosed people and recommend any further action that should be taken to try to identify them. In its report, the Short-Life Working Group recommended a targeted awareness campaign to encourage those who may have had a blood transfusion before September 1991 to come forward for testing.

A public information notice was launched on the 10th of October  to encourage the small undiagnosed group to come forward for advice and testing if they have not done so already. Hepatitis C testing was introduced across Scotland from 1st September 1991 so anyone who received a transfusion after that date is not at risk.

Blood transfusion

Patients who were seriously ill in hospital may have received a blood transfusion for a number of reasons, including:

  • to replace blood lost during major surgery, childbirth or a severe accident
  • to treat anaemia that had failed to respond to other treatments (anaemia is a condition where a person has low levels of red blood cells)
  • to treat inherited blood disorders

In cases of major surgery, complications of childbirth, or a severe accident, patients might not necessarily be aware that they received a blood transfusion. 

Hepatitis C testing and treatment

Highly effective new therapies for hepatitis C (directly acting antivirals) are now available so it is important that anyone who may be at risk of exposure is diagnosed as quickly as possible.  In some infected people hepatitis C may only cause minor, or no obvious symptoms until the later stages of infection.  Taking a simple blood test will put people’s mind at rest or, if the test is positive, allow them to start treatment early.

Estimated undiagnosed people

It's estimated that around 32 people who received a blood transfusion in Scotland before September 1991 were infected with hepatitis C and are still alive and have not yet been tested. Although the risk is small, patients should seek further advice if they have any doubts.

If you think you could be affected

Anyone who knows, or suspects they may have received a blood transfusion before 1 September 1991, and thinks they might be at risk, should call the Hepatitis helpline on 0800 22 44 88 or speak to their GP practice.  

Find out more about hepatitis C

Visit our article on hepatitis C for more information about the condition.
Hepatitis C

Find out more about the Penrose Inquiry

Visit the Penrose Inquiry website for further information on their invesitgation
Penrose Inquiry website