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Contaminated blood report published

23rd February 2009

An independent inquiry has been published which investigates the failure by the health service to stop HIV and hepatitis-infected blood being used to treat patients.

hiv

The NHS treated haemophiliac patients with contaminated blood during the 1970s and 1980s. Almost 5,000 patients were infected with hepatitis C and over 1,500 contracted HIV as a result of blood transfusions.

The inquiry, led by Lord Archer of Sandwell, said the treatment represented  a "horrific human tragedy".

2,000 patients have died since being treated with contaminated blood.

The inquiry was privately funded as the government has refused to investigate the matter.

Blood was used from US sources from 1973 onwards and the inquiry said the American suppliers of the products should be held primarily responsible for the infections.

Lord Archer said the government had been "lethargic" in its progress to become "self-sufficient" with its blood supply.

He added: "It is a bit late to say who is to blame when little can be done about it. What the government ought to address is the needs of people now."

He said a government-backed compensation scheme should be set up in order to help the people affected by the contaminated blood.

He criticised the Department of Health for refusing to supply some documentation and its decision not to supply evidence in public.

Christopher James, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society,  said: "It is absolutely shameful that successive governments have not held a public inquiry into this issue."

"It is now up to the government to look at the report. We want them to act on it urgently and significantly."

 

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