14 July 2017
Government Announce Inquiry Into NHS Blood Scandal That Killed Thousands
The Prime Minister has announced a national inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal that killed more than 2,400 people.
The scandal, which took place in the 1970s and 80s, saw thousands of patients given blood products contaminated with hepatitis C and HIV.
Many of those affected were not warned of the risks and believe there was a cover-up, according to the police.
A recent parliamentary report revealed that an estimated 7,500 patients were infected by imported blood products.
Many patients were being treated for haemophilia, an inherited disorder that impairs the body’s ability to make blood clots. The regular treatment involved a clotting agent, Factor VIII, which is made from donated blood.
Survivors and the families of those affected in what the Prime Minister has rightly called “an appalling tragedy” deserve to know what has happened. Since 2014 the NHS has a duty of candour to let victims of medical accidents know when and how something has gone wrong and it can be a criminal offence to fail to do so.
It was revealed that the imported supplies were infected, with some plasma used to make Factor VIII coming from US prison inmates, who sold their blood.
The Prime Minister told the BBC: "They (victims and families of victims) deserve answers, and the inquiry that I have announced today will give them those answers, so they will know why this happened, how it happened.
"This was an appalling tragedy and it should never have happened."
Families of patients who died – in what has since been called the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS – will be consulted about whether a public Hillsborough-style inquiry or a judge-led statutory inquiry will take place.
Sarah Sedge, a medical negligence specialist at Slater and Gordon, said: “Survivors and the families of those affected in what the Prime Minister has rightly called “an appalling tragedy” deserve to know what has happened. Since 2014 the NHS has a duty of candour to let victims of medical accidents know when and how something has gone wrong and it can be a criminal offence to fail to do so. When a mistake made by a healthcare provider on any level leads to the harm of a patient, an explanation should be expected; but in a case of avoidable harm of this magnitude that has affected so many lives, the level of the inquiry ought to be accordingly stepped up.
“We hope that this long-awaited investigation will bring the survivors and affected families clarity and help them to move forward with their lives.”
Anyone who received a blood transfusion before 1991 is potentially at risk of Hepatitis C infection. Improvements in donor vetting meant that UK patients were receiving safer blood treatments from 1986.
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