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Blood Transfusion

Infected Blood Inquiry: Lawyers’ Hopes For Recommendations

The Infected Blood Inquiry’s final report is due to be published on 20 May 2024, more than five and a half years after it began in September 2018. The Leigh Day infected blood team represents the Hepatitis C Trust and around 300 individuals affected by the contaminated blood scandal.

Posted on 10 May 2024

Many of our clients were given blood transfusions in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s and were infected with one or more of the blood borne viruses HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B.

Often it was several years, sometimes decades, before individuals were tested and diagnosed with Hepatitis which can cause significant liver damage if left untreated. Most continue to experience debilitating physical and psychological symptoms caused by the virus and the early aggressive treatments used.

The impact on the lives of our clients and their families of being infected cannot be overstated. For most it has affected every aspect: their relationships with relatives and friends, education, work, and finances. The social stigma of being infected with HIV or hepatitis continues to this day.

Some of those infected and some of their family members have received financial support payments through various schemes. However these payments have all been made ex-gratia, that is made without recognition of any legal liability, and have been far from sufficient, leaving many on the breadline.

In October 2022, following an interim recommendation made by the Chair of the Inquiry, the government made payments of £100,000 to infected individuals registered with the scheme, and the registered surviving partners of infected individuals who had sadly died.   

There are several groups of individuals who remain ineligible for the schemes and so far, have received no financial support, and no interim compensation payment.

The government has accepted there is a moral case to pay compensation to those infected and affected. However, as yet, no details of a final compensation scheme have been formally announced. This is despite the Chair of the Inquiry recommending in April 2023 that the scheme should be operational by the end of that year.

It is estimated that one person dies every four days as a result of this tragedy, so in the short time between the date of this article and the date of publication of the final report, another two people may have died without receiving redress.

We call once again on the government to implement a comprehensive compensation framework without further delay.  Justice delayed is justice denied.

These are the 10 key action points the Leigh Day infected blood team would like to see included the Inquiry’s final report on Monday 20th May:

  1. A compulsory duty of openness and candour should be introduced for all public servants including Government Ministers
  2. All doctors and clinicians should have a compulsory duty to obtain adequate patient consent.
  3. A formal process to ensure scrutiny of longstanding government policies
  4. Examination by Government of health inequalities based on race, ethnicity or nationality, and the consideration of a public inquiry on this issue 
  5. Extensive Hepatitis C testing to find people who may be undiagnosed
  6. An education and awareness campaign for GPs relating to the signs and symptoms of viral hepatitis and the need to investigate whether a patient may have had a blood transfusion
  7. Improvements in clinical record keeping including lifelong retention of all hospital records and the flagging of blood transfusions on GP records 
  8. A clinical pathway for treatment and care of those infected with Hepatitis C to address both physical and psychological symptoms
  9. Improvements in education of doctors and other clinicians at all levels and across all specialisms about appropriate blood transfusion practice
  10. Criminal liability for those in public office who breach the duty to prevent death or serious injury and are reckless about doing so

The team will be highlighting these points ahead of the publication of the final report on 20May.  We will also be featuring our clients’ stories to illustrate the effect the contaminated blood scandal has had, and continues to have, on their lives.

The Leigh Day team provided written submissions to the Inquiry on behalf of our clients with 40 suggested recommendations for the Inquiry to adopt. Our proposed recommendations have gone beyond the issue of compensation to the duties of clinicians and government bodies; future treatment for those infected; testing to identify the undiagnosed; and further research to address health inequalities.

Our full written submissions can be found here.

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Blood Transfusion

Infected Blood Inquiry

The final report of the Infected Blood Inquiry is due on 20 May 2024. Leigh Day's infected blood team represents more than 300 people impacted by the contaminated blood scandal.

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