Rishi Sunak finally makes Government apology for 'moral failure' of the contaminated blood scandal on 'a day of shame'

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak -Credit:PA Wire/PA Images

Rishi Sunak has finally apologised 'to every single person affected by the scandal' for the state's role in the NHS's worst ever treatment disaster.

The Infected Blood Scandal saw at least 30,000 people given tainted NHS blood or blood products - and with them a cocktail of lethal viruses. These included HIV and hepatitis - and 3,000 people, and rising, have died.

On Monday, Sir Brian Langstaff presented his final report after a public inquiry that has lasted since 2017. Sir Brian described a "catalogue of failings" and vindicated campaigners who have spent decades telling how they were victims of huge injustice. He said: "This was no accident."

Many haemophiliacs were infected - as were thousands who were given blood transfusions in hospital. Many haemophiliacs were "treated like lab rats", and experimented on without their consent. The new report has confirmed how the thousands of infections need not have happened.

The Prime Minister said: "This is a day of shame for the British state. Today’s report shows a decades long moral failure at the heart of our national life – from the National Health Service to the civil service, to ministers in successive governments, at every level the people and institutions in which we place our trust failed in the most harrowing and devastating way.

“They failed the victims and their families and they failed this country."

"It should have been avoided. It was known that these products were contaminated. Warnings were ignored repeatedly and time and again people in positions of trust had the opportunity to stop the transmission of these infections, time and time again, and they failed to do so."

He added: "To our eternal shame, in a way that is almost impossible to comprehend, they allowed victims to be the object of research."

The PM said the victims of the scandal had had their voices heard, he apologised in detail, and promised to act swiftly. He said; "Layer on layer of hurt endured across decades. This is an apology from the state to every single person affected by the scandal."

He added: "I make two solemn promises." These were to act to pay full compensation - "whatever it costs" - and to study Sir Brian's recommendations and citing other injustices such as the Hillsborough tragedy, said there was a need to "fundamentally rebalance the system".

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour leader of the opposition, added: "I want to acknowledge to every single person who has suffered, that in addition to all of the other failings, politics itself has failed you.

"That failure extends to all parties, including my own. There's only one word: Sorry."

Sir Keir paid tribute to his constituent Mark Stewart - who is infected himself and has seen his father and brother die - and pledged to work with the Government to enact redress swiftly.

Sir Brian in his report had highlighted how screening for HIV and hepatitis came too late, how the Government has spent decades "hiding the truth" and he also made a series of recommendations setting out what needs to change. His recommendations include for systemic "culture change" in the NHS and the civil service.

He even confirmed in his opinion documents had been "deliberately destroyed in an attempt to make the truth more difficult to reveal".

The Government is now expected to announce full compensation measures on Tuesday.