Panorama – Contaminated Blood: The Search for the Truth
Published on 11 May 2017
It has been called the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS. More than 2,000 people died and thousands more were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C after being treated with contaminated blood products. All the victims were infected over 25 years ago, but even now new cases are still being diagnosed. Survivors and their families are trying once more to persuade the government to hold a UK public inquiry.
Panorama examines recently released documents, and asks if the government could have done more to save lives. The film hears the heartbreaking testimony of some of the victims and their families and explores the dilemmas of doctors who had to carry on treating their patients through the unfolding crisis.
First broadcast: 10th May 2017 9.00pm – Running time: 58.01 Support: www.taintedblood.info – twitter.com/CampaignTB #contaminatedblood
Click on the links below to read each article:
Contaminated blood inquiry: Cabinet Office to conduct probe after victims criticise Health Department role
‘We have been absolutely clear of our determination to establish what happened,’ said the PM’s spokesman Getty Images
Theresa May has announced plans for a full statutory inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal after victims and families denounced offers of a probe run by the Department of Health.
In a major U-turn, the Prime Minister said the Cabinet Office would now oversee the investigation into how thousands of haemophiliacs and other patients were given blood products infected with HIV and hepatitis C during the 1970s and 1980s, leaving around 2,400 people dead.
Family members have previously condemned the potential involvement of the Department of Health in the UK-wide probe – as it would be effectively investigating itself – with many campaigners boycotting a meeting with officials at Downing Street earlier this year.
Government announces contaminated blood inquiry – but there’s still no chair
The government announced plans on Friday for a full statutory inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal. But it failed to announce a chair for the inquiry – nearly four months after a consultation on a possible inquiry began.
Thousands of haemophiliacs and others were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C in the late 1970s and 1980s. They had been given contaminated blood and blood products including Factor VIII.
Around 2,400 are thought to have died so far as a result.
In a victory for campaigners, Theresa May said that the Cabinet Office would oversee the investigation into the scandal. Survivors and others had fought against any involvement by the Department of Health, which is implicated in the scandal.
The Factor 8 Campaign group welcomed the announcement that the Department of Health would not be overseeing the inquiry.
It added, “We are, however, dismayed and utterly disappointed that this is where today’s announcement ends.
“Victims and families have already waited many months for progress on the inquiry, having endured a consultation which ran unnecessarily for nearly four months.
Full statutory inquiry to be held into contaminated blood scandal
The probe into the contaminated blood scandal will be a “full statutory inquiry” and will come under the responsibility of the Cabinet Office after victims and families “expressed strong views” over the potential involvement of the Department of Health, Downing Street said.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced earlier this year that an inquiry would be held into the events of the 1970s and 1980s, which left around 2,400 people dead.
Contaminated blood ‘cover-up’ revealed in Cabinet papers
Sky News obtains a Thatcher Government minister’s letters trying to shake off responsibility for the scandal.
By Paul Kelso, Health Correspondent – Exclusive
Government attempts to avoid responsibility for the contaminated blood scandal that caused the deaths of more than 2,400 people from AIDS and Hepatitis C can be revealed for the first time by Sky News.
Previously unseen Cabinet documents show senior ministers in the 1987 Conservative Government pursued a deliberate policy of not accepting any responsibility for allowing contaminated blood products to be given to haemophiliacs.
The papers also show ministers tried to limit the Government’s financial liability to victims – despite privately acknowledging it could not “refute convincingly” the allegation that it was at fault.
In the 1970s and 1980s more than 4,000 British haemophiliacs were given blood products contaminated with HIV and Hepatitis C.
Because the UK was not self-sufficient in blood products the substance – called Factor VIII – was imported from the United States, where it had been manufactured with blood drawn from multiple donors.
These included prisoners, habitual drug users and sex workers who had been paid for their blood.
Campaigners say the cabinet papers amount to evidence of a cover-up.
St Albans blood scandal victim one of 500 suing Government
In the 1980s Nicky, who prefers to only use her first name, was one of thousands of haemophiliacs to be treated with Factor VIII – an effective plasma treatment derived from a melting pot of blood donors.
The treatment was imported by the NHS from abroad, including America where prisoners and drug users were paid to give blood. If any one of the thousands of people who contributed blood had an infectious disease, whole batches was contaminated.
Steve Dymond and Su Gorman sit down with Charlie Stayt and Louise Minchin to talk about yesterday’s ruling, which gives victims the right to take High Court action against the UK government.
Contaminated blood victims win right to sue government in High Court over health disaster
The case concerns the use of blood-clotting products in the 1970s and 1980s that were made from plasma donated through high-risk sources, such as prisoners and paid donors in the United States.
These factor products caused haemophiliacs to be infected with HIV and hep C and an estimated 2,400 people have so far died.
Many of those involved in the group legal action are the children or wives of men who have lost their lives.
Barrister Hannah Slarks, acting for the Secretary of State for Health, argued no full letter of claim had been sent to the government over the case and it was premature for legal action to move forward before terms of reference for a new public inquiry into the disaster have been set.
But Steven Snowden QC, acting for Mr Evans and others in the group litigation, said the public inquiry would not fully cover issues set out in the legal case and there was no reason for delay.
Around 5,000 people were infected with Hepatitis C and HIV after being given contaminated blood in the late 1970s and 1980s. The government bought blood cheaply from the US and ignored warnings that it was unsafe.
There is also evidence that contaminated blood was used on some people in order to test its “infectivity”.
A letter signed by several survivors raised fears of a further cover-up after the government announced there could be an inquiry. It said, “We do not believe that the DoH should be allowed to direct or have any involvement into an investigation into themselves, other than giving evidence.
“The handling of this inquiry must immediately be transferred elsewhere.”
It added that any inquiry run by the DoH would be “an insult, a farce and a waste of time.
“This could be viewed as a continuation of historic cover-ups.”
Jackie was infected with Hepatitis C in 1983. She told Socialist Worker, “Nobody wants DoH involvement, except to provide evidence when called for.
“It is at the heart of the scandal and cover up. It would be a conflict of interest for it to have a hand in the set-up of the inquiry.”
Frank Field: Ministers started to stonewall. We had to knock them off their perch
As with so many campaigns, the revelation that haemophiliacs were being poisoned by faulty blood products came from a family visiting my constituency surgery. Twins and a son had been fed poisonous blood products.
Dame Anita Roddick’s daughter has broken her silence about her mother’s death as a result of a contaminated blood transfusion she received while giving birth.
Speaking just days after Theresa May ordered an inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal, Sam Roddick, 46, said the tragedy of her mother’s illness was that she had not been diagnosed with hepatitis C until it was too late to treat the virus.
HIV and hepatitis C: how the Sunday Times exposed the NHS blood transfusion scandal
They were dying at the rate of one a week. As an inquiry is finally ordered into how, a generation ago, the NHS gave infected blood products to thousands of people, the Sunday Times reporter who exposed the full scale of suffering recalls the agony of the victims
‘Firm in our stance’: Contaminated blood victims’ open letter to Theresa May
“Our members will not welcome an Inquiry where the remit or handling is the responsibility of the Department of Health. Due to the historical issues and nature of this Inquiry, we are firm in our stance that these responsibilities should be taken away from the Department of Health. The continued handling of this matter by the Department of Health will not command the trust of our community”.
Government Announce Inquiry Into NHS Blood Scandal That Killed Thousands
Sarah Sedge, a medical negligence specialist at Slater and Gordon, said: “Survivors and the families of those affected in what the Prime Minister has rightly called “an appalling tragedy” deserve to know what has happened.
Daughter of man who died from contaminated blood welcomes public inquiry
THE daughter of a Sedbergh man who died after coming into contact with contaminated blood is ‘ecstatic’ that a public inquiry will be held into the scandal.
On Tuesday (July 11) Theresa May announced a wide-ranging inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s, which left 2,400 people dead.
Patients were treated with blood products imported from America and with blood that had been taken from high risk donors, such as drug addicts and prisoners. Sarah Dorricott’s father, Mike Dorricott, was one of those affected.
“I burst out crying because this could mean that we finally get some closure, that we find out who was responsible and why it happened and we can try to finally move on.
“The baton has been handed down generations and we will keep fighting for our deceased loved ones.”
Lessons must be learned in tainted blood inquiry, say campaigners
The UK inquiry into contaminated blood products must establish lessons that improve public safety, campaigners in Scotland have said.
Many of those affected and their families believe they were not told of the risks involved and there was a cover-up.
Bill Wright, of Haemophilia Scotland, told the BBC: “After many years, we very much welcome a UK-wide inquiry. We’ve waited literally decades for this to happen.
“However, there are a lot of details that are yet to be determined, such as how it’s going to be conducted, where it’s going to be held, what it’s going to look at – and when it’s going to start and how long it might last.”
Nadhim Zahawi welcomes public inquiry into the blood contamination scandal
STRATFORD-UPON-AVON MP Nadhim Zahawi has praised yesterday’s announcement by the Government that it will hold a full public inquiry into the 1970s and 1980s blood contamination scandal.
“I have campaigned with two affected constituents in particular, in addition to helping them find resolution to the many instances of appalling treatment they have undergone at the hands of the Macfarlane Trust, one of the bodies established by the Government in 1988 to administer compensation payments to those affected by the scandal.”
The “bad blood” tragedy could so easily have been avoided (May orders inquiry into contaminated blood scandal, 12 July). Professor Richard Titmuss’s book The Gift Relationship, published in 1970, showed clearly in a comparison of the American system (donors paid for blood) and the British one (unpaid, altruistic donors) that payment leads to drug addicts, alcoholics, convicts and desperately poor malnourished people selling their blood.
Huntingdon MP welcomes inquiry into contaminated blood scandal
Mr Djanogly, speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, said: “I have been really impressed and pleased that the Government have thought this issue through afresh, which is significant, given the previous inquiries and many debates on it. Many of the people who were badly affected have not been catered for to date. They include constituents of mine whose father was infected and who died. They ended up in a children’s home and their lives have been totally devastated, yet they are not within this process.”
Sky News – Sunday 9th July 2017 with Andy Burnham GM
Andy Burnham talks about the recent letter co-signed by all leaders of the six opposition parties, demanding that Theresa May holds a Public Inquiry into the Tainted Blood scandal.
Mr Burnham says that if the Government refuse to hold and inquiry, he will take evidence of criminal behaviour to the police.
LBC London Radio : Sunday 9th July 2017
Stig Abell interviews Jason Evans on his afternoon radio show.
Sky News : Sunday 9th July 2017 with campaigner Jason Evans
Further news coverage of the the Tainted Blood scandal and the letter co-signed by all six leaders of the opposition parties demanding that the Government holds a full Public Inquiry before Parliamentary recess.
Sky News : Sunday 9th July 2017 with Jeff Courtney – Policy and Public Affairs Manager for the UK Haemophilia Society.
Jeff explains the position of the Haemophilia Society in relation to the recent call for a full Public Inquiry into the Tainted Blood scandal made by all six leaders of the opposition parties.
The Sunday Politics – South East edition – 9th July 2017
With Tainted Blood campaigners Su Gorman and Steve Dymond
May urged to order inquiry into tainted blood ‘disaster’
Theresa May is under pressure to order a Hillsborough-style inquiry into a scandal involving contaminated blood after opposition leaders took the unprecedented step of writing a joint letter to the prime minister demanding action.
ITV National News – Victims and families suing UK Government over criminal cover-up – Tuesday 4th July 2017
Families of patients who died as a result of being infected with HIV and hepatitis through contaminated blood products by the NHS in the 1970s and 80s, are seeking a full public inquiry into the scandal.
New documents appear to show that health chiefs knew for six years about the dangers which led to the deaths of over 2000 people.
Lauren Palmer’s father was one of the thousands of people with Hemophilia treated with contaminated blood products, he contracted Hepatitis C and HIV, he then passed that onto Lauren’s mother.
Both of Lauren’s parents died eight days apart, when Loren was just nine-years-old. She was taken into care and says she was given no support after the deaths of her parents.
In the 1970s and 80s, 4,670 people with Haemophilia contracted Hepatitis C and 1,243 people contracted HIV through being given contaminated blood products during NHS treatments.
The newly-discovered documents suggest Department of Health Officials knew in 1980 that there was a high risk from the treatment but that patients were still given the contaminated blood for another six years.
The documents will be used as evidence in legal action lodged at the High Court on Tuesday in which 300 people are suing the government.
News Press Coverage – Daily Mail article – Tuesday 4th July 2017
BBC and Sky News coverage of today’s Daily Mail front page story. The article reports that recently discovered files show that NHS health bosses knew for FIVE years that patients were being infected with viruses. The NHS continued to use the deadly treatment on Haemophilia patients knowing full well it was infecting them. In excess of 2000 patients have been killed to date.