Home Health Report: UK Exposed 30,000 to HIV, Hepatitis Via Contaminated Blood, Covered It Up

Report: UK Exposed 30,000 to HIV, Hepatitis Via Contaminated Blood, Covered It Up

HIV Hepatitis Contaminated blood
Infected blood campaigners

A final inquiry report into the UK’s infected blood scandal has slammed the British authorities and the country’s National Health Service (NHS) for knowingly exposing over  30,000 patients to HIV and Hepatitis infections through contaminated blood and blood products and covering it up for decades.

Published on Monday, nearly six years after the investigation began, the report revealed that about 1,250 people with bleeding disorders, including 380 children, were infected with HIV-tainted blood products, with three-quarters of them having died. Up to 5,000 others who received the blood products developed chronic hepatitis C.

The report also estimated that 26,800 others were infected with hepatitis C after receiving blood transfusions, often administered in hospitals following childbirth, surgery, or accidents.

Former judge Brian Langstaff, who chaired the inquiry, criticised successive governments and medical professionals for “a catalogue of failures” and for refusing to admit responsibility to save face and expense. He found evidence of deliberate attempts to hide the scandal, including government officials destroying documents.

This disaster was not an accident. The infections happened because those in authority — doctors, the blood services, and successive governments — did not prioritise patient safety. The response of those in authority served to compound people’s suffering, Langstaff said, according to AP News.

He added that, unlike many other developed countries, UK officials failed to ensure rigorous blood donor selection and screening, stating that over the years, authorities added to the suffering by denying wrongdoing, falsely claiming patients received the best treatment available, and delaying informing infected patients about the issue.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak apologised to the victims, calling the report’s publication “a day of shame for the British state.”

I am truly sorry, Sunak said

Today’s report shows a decades-long moral failure at the heart of our national life. From the National Health Service to the civil service to ministers in successive governments, at every level, the people and institutions in which we place our trust failed in the most harrowing and devastating way.

Sunak vowed to “right this historic wrong” and announced that details of a compensation package, expected to total 10 billion pounds ($12.7 billion), would be provided on Tuesday.

The Scandal

The contaminated blood scandal, also known as the infected blood scandal, is a British medical crisis where many people were infected with hepatitis C and HIV from contaminated blood or clotting factor products.

These contaminated products, mostly imported from the US, were given to patients by the NHS during the 1970s and 1980s. Most affected individuals had haemophilia or had received blood transfusions after childbirth or surgery.

It is estimated that over 30,000 patients received the contaminated blood, leading to at least 3,000 deaths.

In July 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May announced an independent public inquiry into the scandal, saying that “the victims and their families who have suffered so much pain and hardship deserve answers as to how this could have happened.”

The final report, published on May 20, 2024, concluded that the scandal could have been largely avoided, patients were knowingly exposed to “unacceptable risks,” and that doctors, the government, and NHS tried to cover up what happened by “hiding the truth.”

This scandal is the deadliest to affect Britain’s National Health Service since it was founded in 1948.

According to AP News, had it not been for the tireless campaigners, many of whom saw loved ones die decades too soon, the scale of the scandal may have remained hidden forever.

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