Contaminated Blood Scandal
On the 26th of April 2017 the Guardian published an article indicating that Andy Burnham MP had called on the Government to open an enquiry into the Contaminated Blood Scandal of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
The Article said that he had used his last speech as an MP to demand an inquiry into what he called “a criminal cover-up on an industrial scale” in the NHS over the historic use of contaminated blood.
He said, “Knowing what I know, and what I believe to be true, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I left here without putting it on the official record”.
It has been said that hundreds of deaths have been linked to the scandal in which haemophiliacs and others were infected with hepatitis C and HIV from blood products during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Burnham said that campaigners had given him documents showing victims were used as “guinea pigs” and subjected to “slurs and smears” via falsified medical records.
Others had tests carried out without their knowledge or consent, with the results withheld “for decades in some cases” even when they revealed positive results. Burnham said it had also been suggested that the withholding of results led to infections being passed on to people living with the victims.
The MP highlighted a 1975 letter from the US Stanford University’s medical centre to a UK government-owned blood products laboratory that warned of blood products coming on to the market “from skid row derelicts”.
Another letter sent in 1982 from the Oxford Haemophilia Centre to all haemophilia centre directors in England raised concerns about the effectiveness of testing blood for “infectivity” on chimpanzees.
The article said that Burnham had called for an independent panel or a public inquiry similar to the one launched into Hillsborough: “If the newly elected government after the general election fails to set up the process I’ve described, I will refer my dossier of cases to the police, and I will request a criminal investigation into these shameful acts of cover-up against innocent people”.
The health minister Nicola Blackwood resisted calls for a fresh inquiry but urged Burnham to pass his evidence to ministers. She said: “The government does believe, at this point, that setting up a panel would detract from the work that we are doing to support sufferers and their families, without providing any tangible benefit”.
It is likely that an enquiry will take place in relation to this scandal. If you or anyone you know has been affected by the contamination of blood products in the UK, contact Devonshires Clinical Negligence team who are specialists in these matters for advice.