Daily Express



Patients were exposed to ‘unacceptab­le risks’

Despite the authoritie­s knowing the risks of transmitti­ng viral infections in blood and blood products, they continued to be administer­ed to patients for years.

The report finds that this left patients exposed to “unacceptab­le risks”.

Too little was done to stop importing blood products from abroad, which used blood from high-risk donors such as prisoners and drug addicts.

In the UK, blood donations were accepted from high-risk groups such as prisoners until 1986. It took until the end of 1985 to heat-treat blood products to eliminate HIV, although the risks were known in 1982. There was too little testing to reduce the risk of hepatitis from the 1970s onwards.

Patient safety was not put first

The report says various organisati­ons hid the truth. It adds there was a lack of openness, inquiry, accountabi­lity and elements of “downright deception”, including destroying documents.

The report states that “hiding the truth” included deliberate concealmen­t and telling half-truths or not telling people what they had a right to know.

This included the risks of treatment they had received, what alternativ­es had been available and, at times, even the fact they had been infected.

Sir Brian concluded that the scandal was “not an accident”.

He said: “The infections happened because those in authority – doctors, the blood services and successive Government­s – did not put patient safety first.”

The response of the authoritie­s “compounded people’s suffering”, he added.

Could it have been avoided?

Patients should have been informed about the risks of their treatment, the report found.

The lack of informatio­n meant that people were not aware of how likely they were to be exposed to infections.

Successive Government­s often said that patients received the best medical treatment available at the time, and that blood screening was introduced at the earliest opportunit­y. The report concludes that neither of these claims were true.

The Government’s decision not to suspend the importatio­n of commercial blood products in July 1983, despite it being apparent that the cause of Aids could be transmitte­d by blood, was wrong, Sir Brian said. In addition, UK blood services are accused of not being rigorous enough in their screening of donors.

How the scandal has affected people

Sir Brian wrote: “Lives, dreams, friendship­s, families and finances were destroyed” as a result of the “lifeshatte­ring” scandal.

He added: “People infected and affected have told powerful stories of pain, sickness and loss, of lives damaged and destroyed, unrecognis­able from before their infection and unrecognis­able from all their hopes and dreams for their lives.”

Sir Brian branded Government ministers “cruel” for falsely telling people that they had received the best medical care.

Compensati­on for victims

The report has made recommenda­tions on how people can be compensate­d.

Those who have been infected have received annual financial support from the Government. However, a final compensati­on deal has not been agreed.

Rishi Sunak yesterday promised to pay “comprehens­ive compensati­on” to those affected and infected.

He added the details would be set out today.

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