Inquiry launched into NHS Blood scandal

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Andy Burnham

PA Wire PA Images Andy Burnham

An inquiry will be launched into the "tainted blood" scandal that saw thousands of people infected with hepatitis C and HIV after receiving contaminated blood transfusions in the 1970s and 80s.

Health Minister Philip Dunne is due to give further details in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Because of a shortage of blood products in Britain, the NHS bought much of its stock from U.S. suppliers whose donors, including prisoners and other groups at high risk of infection, had been paid for their blood.

The decision by Downing Street came hours before the government faced possible defeat in a vote on an emergency motion about the need for an inquiry into the scandal that is believed to have contributed to 2,400 deaths. People have suffered enough through contaminated blood.

Pressure for an inquiry had grown amid campaigning by Johnson and Andy Burnham, the former Labour MP who is now mayor of Greater Manchester.

"This inquiry is long overdue and any attempt to lie betray or fob off haemophiliac victims and their families with scraps from the table will be met with the derision it deserves".

A recent report in Britain found 7,500 people were infected by imported blood products. Some of these came from high-risk sources, including prisoners and drug addicts. "So we mustn't pat ourselves on the back and imagine that the United Kingdom product was somehow safe and this was all due to the USA", she told the Press Association.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, had strong opinions about what form the review should take, as he said it needed to be a: "broad, public, inquisitive inquiry".

"Jeremy Hunt said that 2,400 people had died and it was necessary to establish the causes of this appalling injustice", the spokesman said.

"It was obviously a serious systemic failure".

"It has got to a position where we think an inquiry should be held", the prime minister's official spokesperson told journalists at a briefing today.

Beginning the debate in the Commons, Johnson, the Hull North MP, said the best approach appeared likely to be a Hillsborough-style panel.

He noted that the government would held special consultations with the people, who were affected by the tragedy, in order to decide which format of the inquiry would be appropriate.

She said it could be a public inquiry, similar to the Hilsborough probe, or a judge-led statutory inquiry.

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