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Monday 22nd January 2018

Inquiry into contaminated blood

18th April 2007
An independent public inquiry will investigate how patients were treated with contaminated blood.

The inquiry is chaired by the Labour peer Lord Archer of Sandwell. He confirmed the inquiry would examine the reasons behind the supply of contaminated NHS blood and provide advice to assess the needs of those affected. The inquiry will report its findings later this year.

During the 1970s and 1980s, nearly 5,000 haemophilia patients were exposed to hepatitis C. Of that number, more than 1,200 were also infected with HIV. More than 1,700 subsequently died and many more have terminal conditions. The government has insisted treatments were given in "good faith".

Lord Archer said the Department of Health and former health ministers had offered to help with the inquiry. He promised to fully investigate any "blameworthy" evidence. He stated: "Hopefully, we may discover something that will help for the future and we can learn some lessons."

According to the BBC's Newsnight programme, it saw documents showing experts knew about the problem early on, but the treatments were not halted. Lord Archer told the BBC he could not comment on any evidence before it was presented in the inquiry.

Treatment of haemophilia involves injections of a blood-clotting chemical, called factor VIII. Plasma from 10,000 donors was used by the NHS in the 1970s and 1980s, and many patients subsequently contracted hepatitis and HIV. Roddy Morrison, chairman of the Haemophilia Society, told the BBC he was very happy the inquiry was going ahead and that many questions needed to be answered.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health told the BBC: "The government of the day acted in good faith, relying on the information available at the time."

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