UK Blood Scandal Could Have Been Avoided

UK Blood Scandal Could Have Been Avoided



 The infected blood scandal "could largely have been avoided," and there was a "pervasive" cover-up to conceal the truth, an inquiry into the NHS's biggest treatment disaster has concluded.

The Infected Blood Inquiry found deliberate attempts to hide the disaster, including evidence of Whitehall officials destroying documents.

Patients were knowingly exposed to unacceptable infection risks, the inquiry discovered.

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The 2,527-page report documents a "catalogue of failures" with "catastrophic" consequences for those infected with contaminated blood and blood products, as well as their loved ones.

Between the 1970s and 1990s, more than 30,000 people were infected with deadly viruses while receiving NHS care. Inquiry chairman Sir Brian Langstaff described it as a "calamity."

Sir Brian stated, "the scale of what happened is horrifying," with over 3,000 deaths and survivors fighting for decades to uncover the truth.

"Lord Winston famously called these events ‘the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.’ I have to report that it could largely, though not entirely, have been avoided," his report states.

The report highlights how "the truth has been hidden for decades," with evidence that Department of Health documents were "marked" for destruction in 1993.

"Viewing the response of the NHS and of government overall, the answer to the question 'Was there a cover-up?' is that there has been," it states.

"Not in the sense of a handful of people plotting in an orchestrated conspiracy to mislead, but in a way that was more subtle, more pervasive, and more chilling in its implications.

"In this way, there has been a hiding of much of the truth."

Sir Brian emphasized the "level of suffering is difficult to comprehend," noting that the harms inflicted were compounded by the reactions of successive governments, the NHS, and the medical profession.

He stated that claims from successive governments that patients received the best available medical treatment at the time, and that blood screening was introduced as early as possible, were "untrue."

The inquiry attributed much of the responsibility for the failures to successive governments, which acted to save face and expense. The current government was criticized for not acting immediately on compensation recommendations made last year.

Ministers have allocated around £10 billion for a compensation package for those affected, expected to be announced on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Sir Brian noted that, as the scandal unfolded, government decision-making was slow and protracted, with a "doctor knows best" attitude delaying actions to protect patients.

Medics lost sight of the known infection risks, and patients could have received safer care.

Some patients were "betrayed" as tests were conducted on them without their knowledge or consent.

Sir Brian stated, "In families across the UK, people were treated by the NHS and over 30,000 were given infections which were life-shattering. Three thousand people have already died, and that number is climbing week by week. Lives, dreams, friendships, families, finances were destroyed.

"This disaster was not an accident. The infections happened because those in authority—doctors, the blood services, and successive governments—did not put patient safety first. The response of those in authority served to compound people’s suffering."

“The Government is right to accept that compensation must be paid. Now is the time for national recognition of this disaster and for proper compensation to all who have been wronged.”

Sir Brian said that the contaminated blood disaster is “still happening” because patients who suffered “life-shattering” infections continue to die every week.

He told broadcasters: “The scale speaks for itself, if you have over 30,000 people who go into hospital and come out with infections which were life-shattering, that in itself is huge and the suffering for them and others is huge.

“When you add that the fact that over 3,000 have died and deaths keep on happening week after week, you not only have a disaster that has happened over years but is still happening.”

“What I have found is that disaster was no accident. People put their trust in doctors and the government to keep them safe and that trust was betrayed.

“Then the government compounded that agony by telling them that nothing wrong had been done, that they’d had the best available treatment and that as soon as tests were available they were introduced and both of those statements were untrue.

“That’s why what I’m recommending is that compensation must be paid now and I have made various other recommendations to help make the future of the NHS better and treatment safer.”

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