The UK Government has apologised after the long-awaited Penrose report was published detailing how NHS patients were given contaminated blood supplies during the 1970s and 1980s.
Often referred to as the “contaminated blood disaster”, it has been described as the worst treatment catastrophe in NHS history.
Thousands of patients across the UK, many of whom were haemophiliac, were infected with HIV and hepatitis C after being given contaminated blood. It is understood that some of the blood supplies were imported from the United States and included blood donated from high-risk donors such as drug addicts and prostitutes.
Around 2,000 people who were affected by the clinical negligence catastrophe have died to date. Many others have passed their diseases onto their partners or children.
The Penrose Inquiry was established by the Scottish Government in 2009 following demands from campaign groups. The aims of the Inquiry were to investigate what exactly happened, what went wrong and how lessons can be learned to prevent this disaster from happening again.
Thousands of NHS patients and their families have suffered enormously because of the mismanagement of imported blood products in the 70s and 80s.
It is truly astounding that it has taken nearly 40 years for their cases to be fully investigated and for their situation to be acknowledged by this long overdue apology.
People who contracted HIV and hepatitis C and may have also passed this on inadvertently to partners and children, deserve justice. They became chronically ill through no fault of their own and this often affected their ability to work and look after their families.
We have acted in the past for people affected by these contaminated blood products and are now looking again at the best way to move legal action forward.
Fraser Whitehead is Head of Specialist Litigation at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
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