Infected blood scandal victims deserve proper justice - Lynn Carey

Compensation proposals fall short of the recommendations made in the Infected Blood Inquiry report in a number of material ways, writes Lynn Carey​

In a Scotsman article on 13 May, I wrote about my expectation that the final Infected Blood Inquiryreport would include very serious criticisms of a number of organisations, and my hopes that the publication of the final report on May 20 would bring long-awaited justice for those impacted by the contaminated blood scandal.

The report did indeed live up to those expectations. It identifies the wide-ranging, devastating and continuing impact of the scandal. It says: “Some disasters are seared into the national memory, when they happen on one day or in one place. But there has been no particular day, no one-off event, that our nation will for decades associate with the deaths of men, women and children as a result of infected blood and blood products. It is too rarely acknowledged that suffering continues to this day. This disaster happened – and continues to happen – in every part of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, and often has had to happen largely behind closed doors as people and their families lived and live with the consequences of the treatment they received, not able to realise the lives they hoped to live. The weight of unfulfilled hopes and imagined lives, or opportunities in life made unattainable, is almost unbearable.”

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On the day of publication of the final report, Inquiry Chair Sir Brian Langstaff said unequivocally that this disaster was not an accident. The report is hard-hitting and, in many ways, difficult to read. It lays bare decades of gross and culpable failures by successive governments, the NHS and blood services that caused so much pain, suffering and death.

The final report outlines how patients and, in the case of children, their parents, were routinely denied the basic right to play a role in treatment decisions, both in their treatment for bleeding disorders and in the administration of blood transfusions. It highlights that some haemophilia patients were unwittingly used as research subjects for many years.

A heartbreaking example conclusion reached by the Inquiry regards the treatment of a number of boys with haemophilia at Yorkhill hospital who contracted HIV as a result of their treatment with US commercial concentrates. The Inquiry has concluded their consultant did not act in the best interests of his patients in introducing this treatment policy.

Finally, the report vindicated the position that campaigners have fought so hard for many years to have recognised. The victims we represent all talk of many missed opportunities over the years for the truth to be found and justice served, including the previous Penrose Inquiry. The harms of the scandal were compounded by secrecy, cover-up and missed opportunities, including the failures of a Scottish Executive investigation in the early 2000s.

On May 21 2024, the Government announced proposals for an infected blood compensation scheme. There has been widespread concern expressed by those infected and affected regarding the proposed scheme.

The Inquiry’s second interim report containing its recommendations on compensation was published in April 2023. The final report criticises the failure of the Government to take action on compensation following publication of the second interim report. This is described in the report as “a serious failing which replicates the wrongs of the past”.

The current proposals announced by Government fail to implement the Inquiry’s recommendations on compensation in a number of material ways. Justice will have been stolen from those who have been impacted by this scandal if the new post-election Government does not implement these recommendations in full.