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Infected blood scandal: Inquiry into NHS disaster to publish findings

The public inquiry into the infected blood scandal, known as the biggest treatment disaster in NHS history, is due to publish its findings.

More than 30,000 people were infected with HIV and hepatitis C from 1970 to 1991 by contaminated blood products and transfusions. About 3,000 of them have since died – many haemophiliacs given infected blood products as part of their treatment. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to issue an apology on Monday.

Chairman Sir Brian Langstaff will deliver his findings after the Infected Blood Inquiry took evidence between 2019 and 2023.Two main groups of people were caught up in the scandal. One was people with haemophilia, and those with similar disorders, who have a rare genetic condition which means their blood does not clot properly.

In the 1970s, a new treatment was developed to replace the missing clotting agents, made from donated human blood plasma.

But whole batches of the treatments – Factor VIII and Factor IX – were contaminated with deadly viruses. Some of the treatments were imported from the US where blood was bought from high-risk donors such as prison inmates and drug-users. The second group affected include people who had a blood transfusion after childbirth, accidents and during medical treatment.

Blood used for these patients was not imported, but some of it was also contaminated, mainly with hepatitis C. Ros Cooper, who was infected with hepatitis C after treatment for a bleeding disorder as a child, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “words don’t mean a lot”.

“To a lot of people who’ve lost loved ones, what are words going to do? It’s not going to bring back the dead, it’s not going to wash away crimes that have been committed,” she said.

“Lives were effectively ruined because of those decisions. Any kind of apology, to be worth anything to the victims, needs to come from somebody who truly understands that.”Sir Brian’s two interim reports, published in July 2022 and April 2023, made recommendations about compensation for victims and their families.

The government has said it accepts the “moral case” for compensation, and interim payouts of £100,000 each have already been made to about 4,000 survivors and bereaved partners.

Ministers have promised to address the issue of final compensation once the inquiry’s report is published. The total cost is likely to run into billions.

On Sunday, the Conservatives and Labour both committed to compensation for victims, no matter the outcome of the general election expected later this year.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told Laura Kuenssberg there was a “rare moment of consensus”, as Defence Secretary Grant Shapps agreed families had been let down “over decades.

Source: BBC

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