Justice long overdue for blood scandal victims

People affected by the infected blood scandal attend a vigil in Parliament Square
People affected by the infected blood scandal attend a vigil in Parliament Square

The final report of the inquiry into the infected blood scandal will be published today. Ministers are expected to announce a second “interim” payment for the worst affected victims, and for the first time issue an apology for its errors and the suffering caused.

Widely considered the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS, the victims of the scandal were given blood transfusions or products in the 1970s and 1980s that carried viruses including hepatitis C and HIV.

More than 3,000 people died after receiving the contaminated products, while others are living with chronic health conditions as a result. Some, as the BBC found earlier in the year, may still be unaware they were affected, with the government and NHS failing to adequately trace those at risk.

The Telegraph has long called for the Government to give justice to those affected, both in these pages and elsewhere, and it is welcome news that action at last looks likely to be taken. The victims are clearly deserving of an apology, and it is to be hoped that the announcement on full compensation later in the week will at last see the Government belatedly fulfil its obligations to those affected, some of whom have waited more than 50 years for restitution. There should be consequences, too, for the individuals and organisations whose failures led to this tragedy.

As Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said yesterday, the scandal is a “massive injustice which needs to be put right”. Successive governments, both Labour and Conservative, have allowed the process to drag on for too long. It is time to bring it to a swift conclusion.