Contaminated blood scandal: What you need to know

Blood scandal

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A public inquiry has now launched into what has been described as the "worst treatment scandal in the history of the NHS".

Here's all you need to know about the contaminated blood scandal.


What happened?

In the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of patients were were infected with hepatitis C and HIV - the virus that leads to AIDS - via contaminated blood products

The products were imported from the US, but it emerged some of the blood had come from high-risk groups, including prisoners and injecting drug users.


Who was affected?

Around 4,800 people with haemophilia - a genetic disorder that affects the blood's ability to clot - were infected.

Others are thought to have been exposed to the infected blood through transfusions or childbirth.

Almost 3,000 people have died as a result of the scandal, and it is estimated that victims continue to die at a rate of one every four days.

One of the victims, Andy Evans told talkRADIO he developed "full blown AIDs" by the age of 16, after being infected with HIV and hepatitis C and B at five-years-old in 1982, following treatment for haemophilia.

He said if the inquiry takes too long, "there won't be anybody to complain about it anymore".

It is thought there are still thousands of people who remain undiagnosed with hepatitis C as a result of the scandal.


What next?

The newly-launched inquiry will hear from the people infected with HIV and hepatitis C. It is expected to last for three years.

Victims and relatives want to know why plans for the UK to make its own blood products were scrapped, and why warnings about the imported products were ignored.

They are also keen to find out why numerous records and documents relating to the case have disappeared.

Des Collins of Collins Solicitors, which is representing more than 1,000 victims, told talkRADIO he wanted to find out "who did what, why they did it, why they got it wrong" and "why it was covered up for so long".

"I think the answers are pretty obvious, but we'll have to see them come out through this inquiry," he added.