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Blood Bag

Lawyers at Leigh Day say Infected Blood Inquiry final report is vindication for the 300 clients they represent

Lawyers at Leigh Day, who represent around 300 people impacted by the infected blood scandal, say the findings of the Infected Blood Inquiry’s Report are a vindication of their clients’ fight for justice spanning four decades.

Posted on 20 May 2024

In his report, the Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, finds that there were a litany of failures at systemic, collective and individual levels by successive governments, NHS bodies, other public bodies and the medical professions.

The Leigh Day infected blood team welcomes the lessons to be learned and the pragmatic set of recommendations designed to effect, once and for all, cultural change around patient safety and candour. 

On behalf of our clients, Leigh Day’s infected blood team has been calling for many of Sir Brian’s recommendations throughout the five-and-a-half year long Inquiry. The team is delighted to see the extent to which Sir Brian Langstaff has taken on board submissions and recommendations made on behalf of our clients, particularly around compensation without any further delay; lifelong care and treatment of those with infected blood; and establishing a culture of candour at the heart of health services and government.  

Crucially, Leigh Day’s infected blood team welcomes Sir Brian Langstaff’s decision to keep the Inquiry open until he is satisfied that the terms of reference – including the government’s response to his findings – have been fulfilled. This, and the Chair’s strong recommendation around additional Parliamentary scrutiny gives some a clear statement that our clients’ devastating experiences must now be meaningfully responded to without further delay. 

Speaking on behalf of their clients, Leigh Day’s Sandeep Kaur Michael said:

“Today is vindication for our clients but by no means the end of their decades’ long campaign for justice. We welcome the Chair’s powerful indictment of those in power at all levels, and at a scale that he rightly describes as ‘horrifying’. This scandal has long been described as ‘the worst treatment disaster in the NHS’. The Chair goes even further than that today, calling it a ‘calamity’. 

“The Report provides much needed clarity on what went wrong, all while placing the infected and affected front and centre. 

“We echo the Chair’s determination that his Report should effect a culture change that is so desperately needed within both our health service and Government. He has recognised very clearly that patient safety is achieved not only through institutional but individual responsibility. 

"This approach is testament to our clients’ steadfast commitment that such a scandal does not happen again.  

“The impact on the lives of our clients and their families has been utterly devastating – affecting their health, relationships, education, work, and finances in irreparable ways. Tragically, over the years, many of those impacted by this scandal have died without ever seeing justice done. 

“Governments of the day and the medical establishment have repeatedly dismissed our clients’ claims about what happened to them and delayed taking meaningful action. The government cannot hide from the responsibility to right these scandalous wrongs any longer. They must, without any further delay or obfuscation, take urgent action to implement the recommendations in Sir Brian’s report and learn the lessons identified.

“Our clients will be watching to ensure that this is happening, and that they finally get the accountability, acknowledgement and action that they have been waiting for. The fight for justice will continue until the Government finally provides redress for all the harms identified in this Report."

Leigh Day’s infected blood team represented around 300 people affected by the scandal at the Inquiry as well as the Hepatitis C Trust. Many of the firm’s clients were given blood transfusions or blood products 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. 

The Leigh Day infected blood team has particularly welcomed the following recommendations in the Report which reflect  key action points the firm and its clients have been calling for:

  1. Compensation, through a proper compensation scheme, without any further delay.
  2. An apology to the victims and their loved ones, with sufficient detail as to what the apology is for – an apology with affect, affirmation and action.
  3. A statutory duty of candour for NHS leaders so that patient safety is put at the heart of health services.
  4. For the government to consider, in light of the findings of this Inquiry, a statutory duty of accountability  to end the defensive culture in civil service and in government. 
  5. Medical education so that these errors are not repeated.
  6. Lifelong monitoring for those infected persons who have liver damage caused by blood-borne viruses
  7. Hepatitis C testing for those who received a blood transfusion before 1996, so that those, as yet, undiagnosed with Hepatitis C may be found.
  8. The Hepatitis C Trust to receive funding specifically for patient advocacy. Particular consideration to be given as to how the needs of patients with Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Disease can be holistically addressed.
  9. The formal audit of the success of the digital patient record keeping system by the end of 2027. Medical record destruction policies should be kept under review.

 The inclusion of tranexamic acid on every hospital surgical checklist and for hospital medical directors to report to their board and chief executive as to the extent of its use. An annual report also to be provided to NHS England. Recombinant coagulation factor products should be offered in place of plasma derived ones. 

Leigh Day is weighing up the potential for a civil legal action following the government’s announcement of a compensation package.

After paymaster General John Glen’s announcement of in the Commons, Leigh Day partner Gene Matthews, who represents clients considering a legal action, said:

“We want our clients to have the opportunity to fully consider what the government has laid out in terms of a compensation scheme.

“Although the appointment of Sir Robert Francis KC as the interim chair of the arms-length compensation body is  welcome, it is disappointing that the government did not take up his recommendations for a compensation scheme more than a year ago.

“We will be considering the terms of the compensation scheme before we can make any recommendations to our clients in terms of their options for possible legal action.

Leigh Day represents over 150 clients in this potential compensation action relating to provision of infected blood, following the publication of the final Infected Blood Inquiry report.

Emma Jones

Emma Jones

Emma runs the team working on the contaminated blood inquiry 

Beatrice Morgan 2023
Abuse Human rights Inquests

Beatrice Morgan

Beatrice Morgan is a senior associate solicitor in the human rights department.

Sarah Westoby

Sarah Westoby

Sarah Westoby is a senior associate solicitor in the human rights department.

Sandeep Michael
Human rights

Sandeep Kaur Michael

Sandeep is an associate solicitor in the human rights team