…the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS
This tragedy, dubbed by Lords Robert Winston and Alf Morris as “…the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS…”, has killed, widowed and destroyed the lives of thousands.
Survivors and their families are calling for:
A full public inquiry
A full public inquiry, to be held under the Inquiries Act 2005, to fully investigate the events that led to thousands of British haemophiliacs and others with bleeding disorders becoming “superinfected” with a multitude of viruses and pathogens over many years. We believe that the scope of such an inquiry must include:
a) Establishing the events and actions that caused or contributed to the catastrophic failure to provide safe NHS treatment for haemophiliacs.
b) The ability to call on witnesses, in particular from the Department of Health and other government departments.
c) An investigation of all evidence known to government throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
d) Taking into account all evidence presented to date to other UK non-statutory inquiries, such as the Penrose Inquiry and the Archer Inquiry.
e) An investigation into why warnings were missed and/or ignored.
f) A forensic investigation into which documents were shredded and a retrospective‘piecing-together’ of the likely content, as well as identifying who gave the order, when and why. We have anecdotal evidence that the Official Secrets Act was used by the DoH during the known shredding episodes and we have reason to believe that potential witnesses will be blocked by this. We believe the restriction of the Official Secrets Act will be a major barrier to proper disclosure and this must be addressed.
g) An investigation into the support network, as developed since the 1980s, in particular its appropriateness in terms of the damage and impact caused to its registrants.
h) Conclusions and recommendations.
Full compensation for haemophiliacs both living and deceased and their families. This is to be awarded in such a way that closure can be achieved for the majority of those infected and affected. We deserve the dignity of financial security without a reliance on state benefits.
Lessons to be learnt
Lessons to be learnt from what happened to the haemophiliacs, and measures put in place to protect the surviving victims along with patients of the future. These measures to cover the safety of the nation’s blood supply, along with other measures to address mistakes identified – for example missed warnings, not passing on test results to patients, procedural errors and non-consensual testing. Immediate review of protocols allowing police / hospital / regulatory organisations to dismiss patients reporting incidents or concerns.
We also aim to...
Encourage and promote any government look-back exercise to identify all those who may have been affected. We support any government initiative with the purpose of efficient screening of blood, testing suspected victims and obtaining counselling for those infected and affected.
* Our group was set up by haemophiliacs and campaigns solely for haemophiliacs and their families. However, we also recognise all those who have contracted viruses through the whole blood method, In doing so we acknowledge the very different circumstances between the events leading up to their infections, compared to haemophilia infections.
For over twenty five years, our pleas for truth and justice have been met with a series of inadequate, derisory, ex-gratia payments. Requests for a Public Inquiry have been met with a complacent assertion that lessons have been learned and that what happened was an accident.
The evidence demonstrates this opinion is dangerously wrong. This is unacceptable and the Government should be aware that, such is the anger felt by our community – we will not stop until justice is done!