Infected Blood Inquiry terms of reference welcomed

Lawyer representing over 300 people at the forthcoming Infected Blood Inquiry has welcomed the terms of reference which were unveiled ahead of the inquiry start date, expected to be later this year.

The Infected Blood Inquiry will look into how many thousands of NHS patients were provided with contaminated blood by the NHS during the 1970’s and 1980’s and, as a direct result, contracted one or both of the blood-borne viruses, HIV and HCV.

The Department of Health, stated that, published data and scientific studies have estimated that around 4,700 people with bleeding disorders (such a haemophilia) and around 28,000 other people were exposed to or infected with HCV in the UK. Over 2000 are thought to have died as a result of the catastrophe.

Lord Robert Winston described it as “the worst treatment disaster in the history of the National Health Service.”

Terms of reference

In a letter to Government Minister David Lidington, the chair of the inquiry Sir Brian Langstaff outlined what he hoped the inquiry would achieve. Sir Brian states:

“The proposed terms of reference are framed to provide reassurance about the thoroughness of the Inquiry. They reflect the themes that emerged from the consultation responses, though not in the same order, and cover: what happened and why; the impact; the response of Government and others; consent; communication and information-sharing; treatment, care and support; whether there was a cover-up or the authorities lacked candour; and responsibilities and recommendations.”

Emma Jones from the law firm Leigh Day, who is representing over 300 people affected through being given contaminated blood welcomed the terms of reference released today. She said:

“It seems clear from the terms of reference unveiled by Sir Brian today that he, and the rest of the inquiry team, have really listened and taken on board what members of the community, those affected by this scandal, told them during the consultation process.

“In his letter to Mr Lidington, Sir Brian has demonstrated his commitment to examine in detail issues that will be uncomfortable for some.

“My clients believe that the terms of reference provide the foundations for a robust inquiry, an inquiry which will be thorough. However, there is a tension between speed and thoroughness. Many of those affected have a limited life expectancy due to their condition and so it is important that the process is also swift to conclusion whilst leaving no stone unturned.” 

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Our clients have been campaigning for many years for answers to their questions, the most burning question being how could contaminated blood have been given to so many NHS patients? We are taking steps to ensure that the surviving victims, and their families, are able to move forward with their lives

Leigh Day is a leading law firm with a track record of taking on governments, businesses and powerful institutions on behalf of individuals. We believe everyone should have access to justice.

Summary of article first published on 2 July 2018 on the Leigh Day website.

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