The government is to hold a full inquiry into how thousands of people were infected with Hepatitis C and HIV as a result of blood transfusions in the 1970s and 1980s, Downing Street confirms.
Theresa May and health secretary Jeremy Hunt, announced to colleagues on Tuesday 11 July that an inquiry into what the prime minister called the “contaminated blood scandal” was needed.
Hunt confirmed the UK-wide inquiry would look into the deaths of 2,400 people before mass screening for hepatitis C of all blood donations, which only began in 1991.
The commons had been due to hold an emergency debate on whether to settle such an inquiry, granted by Commons Speaker, John Bercow, to Labour MP Diana Johnson, who has campaigned on this issue at great length.
May’s spokesman announced the government would consult those affected before deciding what form of inquiry to take. Although it could lead to a Hillsborough-type independent panel, or a judge-led statutory inquiry.
Many of those affected believe they were not told of the risks involved and there was a sort of cover-up.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said there was a need for a “broad public inquisitive inquiry…It was obviously a serious systematic failure. I think we need the strongest possible inquiry that can, if necessary, lead to prosecution actions as a result, but above all get to the bottom of it.”
Many of those infected were people with haemophilia, who needed regular blood transfusion. In the 1970s and 1980s, many of these transfusion products were imported from the US, where donors were paid, a practice that increased the risk of unsuitable blood.
At the time, donors in both the US and UK included prisoners, where drug use was an added risk.