‘A Day Of Shame’: Rishi Sunak Apologises To Infected Blood Scandal Victims

Rishi Sunak has apologised to the tens of thousands of people affected by the NHS infected blood scandal on what he described as “a day of shame for the British state”.

His comments, in a statement to MPs, came after the chair of the public inquiry into the controversy said victims had been “betrayed” by successive governments.

Tens of thousands of NHS patients were infected with HIV and hepatitis after being treated in the 1970s, 80s and 90s with contaminated blood products imported from the United States. More than 3,000 of them have died so far.

Speaking after the publication of his long-awaited report, Sir Brian Langstaff said: “What I’ve found is that that disaster was no accident.

“People put their trust in doctors and the government to keep them safe, and that trust was betrayed,

“And then the government compounded the agony by telling them that nothing wrong had been done, that they’d has the best available treatment, and that as soon as tests were available, they were introduced. And both of those statements were untrue.”

Sir Brian said “compensation must be paid now”, with ministers expected to unveil a £10 billion package as soon as tomorrow.

Sunak said: “This is a day of shame for the British state. Today’s report shows a decades-long moral failure at the heart of our national life.

“From the National Health Service to the civil service, to ministers in successive governments, at every level, the people and institutions in which we place our trust, failed in the most harrowing and devastating way.

“They failed the victims and their families and they failed this country.

“Sir Brian finds a catalogue of systemic, collective and individual failures; each on its own serious, and taken together amounting to a calamity. And the result of this inquiry should shake our nation to its core.

“This should have been avoided. It was known these treatments were contaminated. Warnings were ignored repeatedly. Time and again, people in positions of power and trust had the chance to stop the transmission of those infections. Time and again, they failed to do so.

“Sir Brian finds an attitude of denial towards the risks of treatment. Worse, to our eternal shame, in a way that it is even hard to comprehend, they allowed victims to become objects for research.”

The PM added: “I find it almost impossible to comprehend how it must have felt to be told you had been infected through no fault of your own with HIV, or hepatitis B or hepatitis C, or to face the grief of losing a child, or to be a young child and lose your mum or dad.”

Speaking directly to the victims, some of whom were in the Commons to hear his statement, Sunak said: “I want to make a wholehearted and unequivocal apology for this terrible injustice.

“First, to apologise for the failure in blood policy and blood products, and the devastating and so often fatal impact this had on so many lives, including the impacts of treatments which were known to be contaminated.

“Second, to apologise for the repeated failure of the state and our healthcare professionals to recognise the harm caused. This includes the failure of previous payment schemes, the inadequate levels of funding made available and the failure to recognise hepatitis B victims.

“And third, to apologise for the institutional refusal to face up to these failings, and worse, to deny or even attempt to cover them up.”

The prime minister added: “Layer upon layer of hurt, endured across decades. This is an apology from the state to every single person impacted by this scandal.

“It did not have to be this way. It should never have been this way. And on behalf of this and every government stretching back to the 1970s, I am truly sorry.”

Sunak vowed that “comprehensive compensation” will be paid to all those affected by the scandal.

“Whatever it costs to deliver this scheme, we will pay it,” he said.

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