Blood scandal was 'needless' and 'catalogue of failures' led to thousands of deaths

Factor VIII - a blood product used to treat many haemophiliacs
Factor VIII - a blood product used to treat many haemophiliacs -Credit:PA / Factor 8

The devastating contaminated blood scandal, which resulted in thousands of "needless" deaths, should never have occurred, according to a heart-wrenching report. The report suggests that the tragedy could have been "largely but not entirely avoided", and highlights a "catalogue of failures which caused this to happen".

The Infected Blood Inquiry's final report, penned by former High Court Judge Sir Brian Langstaff, was delivered today. It places blame squarely on politicians and the NHS for the scandal, which has seen thousands lose their lives after being given blood or blood products containing deadly viruses by their doctors.

Upon delivering the report, Sir Brian stated: "In families across the UK, people were treated by the NHS and over 30,000 were given infections which were life shattering. 3,000 people have already died and that number is climbing week by week. Lives, dreams, friendships, families, finances were destroyed."

"This disaster was not an accident. The infections happened because those in authority - doctors, the blood services and successive governments - did not put patient safety first. The response of those in authority served to compound people's suffering."

For campaigners like Carol Grayson of Jesmond, who has fought for justice for decades, first with her husband Peter Longstaff and then following his tragic death due to HIV, Sir Brian's report will serve as vindication, reports Chronicle Live.

Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary, home to the Newcastle Haemophilia Centre, has been implicated in a widespread scandal involving haemophilia units around the UK. The centre, along with many others, allegedly administered lethal treatment to patients without informing them of the associated risks.

The revelations come seven years after a public inquiry was launched, resulting in the recent release of Sir Brian's report. Among 12 comprehensive recommendations made within the report, Sir Brian insists the Government should begin compensation payments "now".

The report spans an astonishing 2,500 pages, uncovering decades of apparent deception and neglect by the NHS. Sir Brian reveals that "hiding the truth" became systematic within this health crisis, with evidence of documents being "deliberately" destroyed.

Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major, among others, are singled out for delivering "unacceptable" statements to Parliament regarding the scandal.

Notably, the report also criticises Governments led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Tragically, around 100 haemophiliacs in Newcastle contracted AIDS as a result of this negligent practice, while others were infected with hepatitis C via blood transfusions. Over the last forty years, at least 3,000 people nationally are estimated to have succumbed to conditions related to this scandal, although actual figures may be significantly higher.

In his report, Sir Brian Langstaff commented that knowledge of Hepatitis C by "by the end of the 1970s" and of HIV by at least the start of 1983 should have prompted a reassessment of treatments by doctors. However, the report outlines how a prevailing culture of "defensiveness" within the medical community prevented this from happening.

The document goes on to state: "Infections, leading to deaths, illness and suffering were caused needlessly to people with bleeding disorders."

Regarding HIV and AIDS, it is noted in the report: "Haemophilia centre directors knew, or should have known, no later than the end of 1982 (and probably earlier) of the risks of transmission of AIDS by blood and blood products."

Sir Brian's investigation also uncovered numerous shortcomings in patient care, as detailed in the Inquiry report, which include:.

The Government's handling of the scandal over the past four years has been met with criticism, alongside a more prolonged period of "hiding of the truth". Sir Brian expressed: "Standing back, and viewing the response of the NHS and of government overall, the answer to the question 'was there a cover-up' is that there has been."

"Not in the sense of a handful of people plotting in an orchestrated conspiracy to mislead, but in a way that was more subtle, more pervasive and more chilling in its implications. In this way there has been a hiding of much of the truth."

The Prime Minister is anticipated to issue a formal apology to those impacted on Monday, with additional details regarding compensation expected to be disclosed on Tuesday.

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