Contaminated blood scandal inquiry announced

Donated bloodImage copyright

An inquiry will be held into the contaminated blood scandal that left at least 2,400 people dead, the prime minister has confirmed.

A spokesman for Theresa May said it would establish the causes of the “appalling injustice” that took place in the 1970s and 1980s.

Thousands of NHS patients were given blood products from abroad that were infected with hepatitis C and HIV.

It’s been called the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

Many of those affected and their families believe they were not told of the risks involved and there was a cover-up.

Blood disaster

A recent parliamentary report found around 7,500 patients were infected by imported blood products.

Many were patients with an inherited bleeding disorder called haemophilia.

Image caption

Jason says patients would not have played Russian roulette with their lives if they had known the risks

They needed regular treatment with a clotting agent Factor VIII, which is made from donated blood.

The UK imported supplies and some turned out to be infected. Much of the plasma used to make Factor VIII came from donors like prison inmates in the US, who sold their blood.

Jason Evans was just four years old when his father Jonathan, a haemophiliac, died after being infected with HIV through contaminated Factor VIII treatment.

Media captionJason Evans’ father died of Aids after being infected with contaminated blood

Jason recently discovered that in late 1984 – his father had raised concerns with his doctors about Factor VIII but he says he was told “there was nothing to worry about, this is sensationalism and not to pay attention to it. And he trusted his doctor”.

BBC Panorama – Contaminated Blood: The Search for the Truth

The inquiry

Families of those who died will be consulted about what form the inquiry should take.

It could be a public Hillsborough-style inquiry or a judge-led statutory inquiry, the prime minister confirmed.

Her spokesman said the decision to hold an investigation was prompted by new evidence. It is not clear what that evidence is.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the inquiry should have the potential to trigger prosecutions.

Liberal Democrat former health minister Norman Lamb warned that the inquiry must take place urgently to help survivors in desperate need of help.

Andy Evans, chairman of the campaign group Tainted Blood, said he was delighted the inquiry had been announced.

But he was also being “cautious” as the terms of reference had not yet been agreed.

He was infected with HIV and Hepatitis B and C 35 years ago at the age of five. He said the scandal had devastated the lives of many people and said the inquiry now needed to get to the bottom of what happened.

“We have evidence that warnings were ignored and that these products continued to be used despite the warnings and that following the infections… a cover-up.”

Liz Carroll, Chief Executive of The Haemophilia Society, said: “The Government has for decades denied negligence and refused to provide compensation to those affected, this inquiry will finally be able to properly consider evidence of wrongdoing.”

Sir Peter Bottomley, co-chairman of the cross-party parliamentary group on haemophilia and contaminated blood, said the success of the inquiry would lie in it being able to get hold of sensitive information.

“It must have powers to get documents from pharmaceutical companies and government,” he said.

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Contaminated blood scandal inquiry announced

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