Overdue Inquiry Into Contaminated Blood Scandal Opens - RightsInfo

Overdue Inquiry Into Contaminated Blood Scandal Opens

A public inquiry into the deaths of nearly 3,000 people who received contaminated blood from the NHS during the 1970s and 1980s has opened today. 

In the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of people were infected with Hepatitis C and HIV after being administered contaminated blood imported from the US.

For decades, campaigners have fought for a public inquiry to seek answers about what has been described as ‘the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS’.

The public inquiry is chaired by retired judge Sir Brian Longstaff, and will investigate a possible cover up at the Department of Health and the destruction of documents.

Background of the Contaminated Blood Scandal

Blood vials Image: Senior Airman Philip Bryant

In the 1970s and 1980s, roughly 5,000 people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders were multiply-infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses through the use of contaminated blood.

More than 2,400 people have since died and, of the 1,200 people infected with HIV, fewer than 250 are still alive, according to the Haemophilia Society.

The contaminated blood products were taken from as many as 40,000 people, including high risk groups such as prison inmates who sold their blood and intravenous drug users.

People who underwent blood transfusions for other reasons, such as women giving birth, were also exposed to the contaminated blood. Today, it’s estimated that as many as 30,000 people may have been infected.

“The Greatest Untold Injustice in the History of this Country”

Andy BurnhamImage: NHS Confederation/flickr.com

Victims and their families have been calling for a public inquiry for decades.

In July 2017, following many years of pressure, campaigning and legal action, Theresa May granted a public inquiry.

She said the scandal was an “appalling tragedy which should simply never have happened”.

“The victims and their families who have suffered so much pain and hardship deserve answers as to how this could possibly have happened.”
Former health secretary, Andy Burnham, had previously told the House of Commons that he believed a ‘criminal cover up on an industrial scale’ took place.
Calling for a public inquiry in April 2017, he commented, “all of us here are collectively culpable of failing to act on evidence that is there before us if only we cared to look and, by extent, failing thousands of our fellow citizens who are the victims of perhaps the greatest untold injustice in the history of this country.”
Campaigners and victims had challenged the refusal to hold a public inquiry, arguing that the scandal should be properly investigated.
The inquiry, which is drawing comparisons with the Hillsborough inquiry, is expected to last between two and five years.
Featured image: sabinurce/pixabay.com

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Rahul Verma

News Editor
Rahul is Rights Info's News and Social Media Editor. He is an experienced reporter and editor covering the under-represented, arts and culture and migrant communities, and has worked for national newspapers, youth media projects and creative agencies. He is hugely passionate about social justice, equality and a fairer world. To email Rahul, drop him a line. View all posts by Rahul Verma.
Overdue Inquiry Into Contaminated Blood Scandal Opens
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