UK PM apologises for infected blood scandal cover-up

 London, May 21: The UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak apologised for the infected blood scandal on behalf of successive governments and declared it was a “day of national shame”. Addressing the House of Commons following the publication of the inquiry, Sunak said on Monday: “I want to make a whole-hearted and unequivocal apology for this terrible injustice.”

He also promised to pay “comprehensive compensation” to those infected and those affected by the scandal, Xinhua news agency reported. “Whatever it costs to deliver this scheme, we will pay it,” he said, adding that details will be set out on Tuesday. Earlier on Monday, a damning 2,527-page inquiry concluded that the contaminated blood scandal in the UK which has caused more than 3,000 deaths, “could largely, though not entirely, have been avoided.”

The report said that “a catalogue of failures” by successive governments and doctors caused the “calamity,” in which tens of thousands of patients with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders were infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses after receiving infected blood and blood products between the 1970s and early 1990s. “It may also be surprising that the questions why so many deaths and infections occurred have not had answers before now,” the report added.

The scandal has been called “the worst treatment disaster” in the history of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). The report also revealed that there has been “a hiding of much of the truth” by the government and the NHS “to save face and to save expense”. Such a cover-up was “not in the sense of a handful of people plotting in an orchestrated conspiracy to mislead, but in a way that was more subtle, more pervasive and more chilling in its implications,” it said. The scandal was linked to supplies of a clotting factor imported from the US, which used blood from high-risk paid donors.

The government announced the establishment of a UK-wide public inquiry in 2017 to examine the circumstances that led to individuals being given contaminated blood and blood products. In 2022, the government made interim compensation payments of 100,000 British pounds (about $127,000) to about 4,000 infected individuals and bereaved partners who were registered with the country’s infected blood support schemes.