David Cameron apologises to victims of contaminated blood scandal

A comprehensive inquiry into how people were infected with hepatitis C and HIV from contaminated blood was published today.
A comprehensive inquiry into how people were infected with hepatitis C and HIV from contaminated blood was published today.
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David Cameron has apologised on behalf of the British government to victims of the contaminated blood scandal.

The Prime Minister also confirmed £25 million of funding to improve financial support for the NHS patients who were infected with hepatitis C and HIV during the 1970s and 1980s.

It is difficult to imagine the feelings of unfairness that people must feel at being infected with hepatitis C and HIV as a result of a totally unrelated treatment within the NHS

David Cameron

The Government’s move follows pressure from victims such as Sally Vickers from Portsmouth.

It comes after a comprehensive inquiry, set up by the Scottish Government to investigate what went wrong, called for people who had a blood transfusion before 1991 to now be tested for hepatitis C.

The probe, chaired by Lord Penrose, found more should have been done to screen blood and donors for hepatitis C in the early 1990s and said the collection of blood from prisoners should have stopped earlier.

Mr Cameron said: “To each and every one of those people I would like to say sorry on behalf of the Government for something that should not have happened.”

At Prime Minster’s Questions, Mr Cameron pledged to respond to the findings of the inquiry if he is returned to No 10 at the general election.

He added: “While it will be for the next government to take account of these findings, it is right that we use this moment to recognise the pain and the suffering experienced by people as a result of this tragedy.

“It is difficult to imagine the feelings of unfairness that people must feel at being infected with hepatitis C and HIV as a result of a totally unrelated treatment within the NHS.”

Opposition leader Ed Miliband said Labour would act on the findings if the party wins on May 7.

He told the Commons: “We undertake today to carry these recommendations forward as well.”

Scotland Health Secretary Shona Robison also apologised on behalf of the NHS and the Government in Scotland.

She accepted the inquiry’s single recommendation that steps should be taken to offer blood tests to anyone in Scotland who had a blood transfusion before 1991 and who has not already been tested for hepatitis C.

She also confirmed that the Scottish Government will review and improve the financial support schemes offered to those affected and their families.

This review will be concluded before World Haemophilia Day in April 2016, she said.

Ms Robison said: “On behalf of the NHS and Government in Scotland, I would like to say sorry to everyone who has been affected by this terrible tragedy. We recognise just how catastrophic this was for everyone affected.

“While this was a UK - indeed international issue - I hope that today’s report means that those affected in Scotland now have at least some of the answers they have long called for.”

She added: “I will meet families and those affected today to personally express that apology, and to talk about our response to the inquiry report.

“The First Minister will confirm that apology on behalf of the NHS and Government in Scotland in Parliament tomorrow, and I will make a full statement in the chamber tomorrow afternoon.

“The people affected are first and foremost in our minds, and I hope that the publication of this detailed and thorough report will, at the very least, give them the comfort of knowing that the circumstances have now been thoroughly investigated in Scotland.”

In a written statement, UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “I would like to say on behalf of this Government how sorry we are for what happened, and express my sympathy for the pain and grief suffered by many infected people and their families.

“Whilst it will be for the next government to consider all of Lord Penrose’s findings, I would hope and fully expect proposals for improving the current complex payment system to be brought forward, with other UK health departments.

“In the meantime, I am pleased to announce that I will be allocating up to an additional one-off £25 million from the Department of Health’s 2015/16 budget allocation to support any transitional arrangements to a different payment system that might be necessary in responding fully to Lord Penrose’s recommendations.

“We intend this to provide assurances to those affected by these tragic events that we have heard their concerns and are making provision to reform the system.”