The Infected Blood Public Inquiry, announced nearly a year ago, is being unnecessarily held up for no good reason, according to Des Collins, Senior Partner of Collins Solicitors, representing more than 1,000 victims, their families and eight campaign groups.
“The Public Inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster was announced by the Prime Minister on 15th June 2017, with the proposed Terms of Reference agreed in just two months,” Des Collins said.
“By comparison, the Contaminated Blood Public Inquiry was announced on 11th July 2017 with no sign – yet – of the Terms of Reference being sent by the Chair of the Inquiry to the Prime Minister, despite the consultation having finished on 26th April.”
The Public Inquiry was ordered to discover how and why so many haemophiliacs and other NHS patients were treated with blood and blood-products in the 1970s and 1980s resulting in victims being infected with HIV and/or Hepatitis C.
Factor VIII and Factor IX Concentrate Products were the most commonly used products to treat Haemophilia and were particularly high risk both because of their source and repeated use.
As a result, in total, it is estimated that in the UK, almost 4,000 haemophiliacs were infected with Hepatitis C, of which 1,243 also contracted HIV, in many of whom this then progressed to AIDS. Thousands of deaths have followed.
After refusing calls for an Inquiry for more than 30 years, the Government finally announced the Public Inquiry in July 2017, however, it is now June 2018 and no Terms of Reference have been announced.
In a further development, the Department of Health is also refusing Freedom of Information requests made by campaigner Jason Evans. After submitting more than 250 FOI requests over the last 18 months, on 4th June 2018 the Department of Health told Mr. Evans that releasing any more evidence to him would not be appropriate and that “the public interest is better served by withholding this information”.
Des Collins continues: “To put the delay into some sort of context: more people have died from issues and ill health directly linked to being given contaminated blood since the Grenfell Tower disaster, than died on that awful day last summer.
“Yet again the thousands of victims and their families affected by this dreadful scandal are having to put up with silence and uncertainty. Further, that the Department of Health feels that withholding information is in some way beneficial to the public interested is beyond comprehension.
“It is time for the promised Inquiry to get underway and the world can hear how this scandal came about and the appalling situation so many people have had to put up with for so long.
“The victims are owed some long overdue answers as to how and why they received infected blood and blood products from the NHS, and what the Government now proposes to do about it.”
For commentary, background or insight, please contact:
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Notes to Editors:
Please see the separate, attached document with a chronology of the delay into the start of the Inquiry.
- In the late 1970s and early 1980s, infected Factor VIII and Factor IX Concentrate Products were the most commonly used products to treat Haemophilia and were particularly high risk, with commercial Factor VIII having been licensed in the UK in 1973.
- It is estimated that in the UK, almost 4,000 haemophiliacs were infected with Hepatitis C, of which 1,243 also contracted HIV, in many of whom this then progressed to AIDS.
- The failure to act is estimated to have caused over 2,000 deaths nationwide, so far. Many victims died too early to be treated with modern life-prolonging medication, without which the death toll would have been much higher.
- Fewer than 250 of the haemophiliacs who were “co-infected” with both Hepatitis C & HIV remain alive. They face a lifetime on medication having to cope with both a serious illness and truly shocking discrimination.
- After many years of campaigning by the victims of the Contaminated Blood Scandal, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced the Infected Blood Inquiry on 11th July, 2017.
- While the inquiry was originally sponsored by the Department of Health, it was transferred to the Cabinet Office on 3rd November, 2017 following demands from campaign groups and individuals.
- A statement from the Prime Minister followed on 21st December, 2017 announcing that the forthcoming inquiry would be a full Public Inquiry.
- Mr. Justice Langstaff was announced as Chair to the Public Inquiry on 8th February 2018, which was due to start sitting in May 2018.
- The consultation period with victims of the contaminated blood scandal to set the ‘terms of reference’ of the inquiry lasted until 26th April, 2018.
Group Litigation Order:
- In addition to the Public Inquiry, Collins Solicitors applied for the ‘Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation Order’ on behalf of its clients on 4th July, 2017 and this was granted on 27th October, 2017. Collins Solicitors also represents over 800 victims and their families in this matter.
- The High Court also ordered the Department of Health to disclose documents relating to previous litigation related to the Contaminated Blood Scandal.
- The next steps in the litigation are the preparation of group particulars of claim by the Claimants by 31st July, 2018, with the defence by the Department of Health due on 30th November, 2018. The next public hearing will be in December 2018.
- The Court has ordered that all new claimants must join the Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation and be on the register by 30th November, 2018.
- Anyone affected by the issues covered by the Infected Blood Public Inquiry, whether victims or relatives of victims, has the right to be represented. Likewise, to join the Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation, please contact Collins Solicitors on 01923 223 324 and ask for our Contaminated Blood Team, or email us at email@example.com
Further details on the background to this matter are available here: www.collinslaw.co.uk/contaminatedblood