Inquiry Into NHS’ ‘Worst Ever Treatment Scandal’ Starts to Take Evidence
The NHS is in the news for all the wrong reasons again today with a public inquiry into what has been called its ‘worst ever treatment scandal starting to take evidence.
In the 1970s and 1980s, around 5,000 people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders were multiply-infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses through the use of contaminated blood imported from the United States.
The contaminated blood products were taken from as many as 40,000 people, including high risk groups who sold their blood and intravenous drug users.
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.
People who underwent blood transfusions for other reasons, such as women giving birth, were also exposed to the contaminated blood. In total, it is estimated that as many as 30,000 people may have been infected.
Former health secretary, Andy Burnham, had previously said that he believed a ‘criminal cover up on an industrial scale’ took place.
A public inquiry into the scandal, led by retired judge Sir Brian Langstaff, was first announced in July 2017.
Victims and relatives are desperate to know why plans to make the UK self-sufficient in blood products were scrapped, why many documents and patient records appear to have been lost or destroyed and why warnings about the safety of the medicine may have been ignored.
It is hoped that the inquiry, which could last for more than two years, provides them with the answers they are seeking.