June 13, 2024
Health

Health chiefs have blood on their hands




On being named chairman of the Infected Blood Inquiry in 2018, Sir Brian Langstaff promised to ‘provide some well-needed answers to the victims and their families’.

The former High Court judge also vowed to recommend steps to ensure such a grotesque scandal ‘will never happen again’.

Today, when he publishes the long-awaited final report on what was the worst patient treatment disgrace in NHS history, Sir Brian will fulfil that solemn commitment.

More than 40 years after their nightmare began, those whose lives were touched disastrously by tainted transfusions will begin to see delivered the justice they have been denied for so long.

The facts are truly horrifying. During the 1970s and 1980s, an estimated 30,000 people – mainly haemophiliacs – were infected with HIV and hepatitis from contaminated blood products imported from firms in the US.

The facts are truly horrifying. During the 1970s and 1980s, an estimated 30,000 people ¿ mainly haemophiliacs ¿ were infected with HIV and hepatitis from contaminated blood products imported from firms in the US. Pictured: Those that died after receiving infected blood are displayed during a vigil in Parliament Square on May 19, 2024
On being named chairman of the Infected Blood Inquiry in 2018, Sir Brian Langstaff (pictured) promised to ‘provide some well-needed answers to the victims and their families’
More than 40 years after their nightmare began, those whose lives were touched disastrously by tainted transfusions will begin to see delivered the justice they have been denied for so long

The plasma-derived treatment, known as Factor VIII, was manufactured using donations from ‘high-risk’ groups, including drug addicts, sex workers and prisoners.

At least 3,000 patients have died as a result and many more lives were seriously blighted. Their stories are painful to hear.

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What makes the entire scandal even worse is that the Department of Health repeatedly ignored warnings about the risks, then sought to sweep its failings under the carpet and fobbed off the victims.

It’s difficult to imagine a more egregious breach of trust, or a worse abrogation of the duty of care owed by the NHS to patients.

We can only hope Sir Brian’s report will identify those responsible and see they are brought to book.

The Government has acknowledged the moral case for compensation. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has indicated that a payouts package will total at least £10billion.

A scheme should be set up without delay, not least because for many victims time is fast running out. It is estimated one person affected by the scandal dies every four days, so there must be no foot-dragging.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has indicated that a payouts package will total at least £10billion

Rishi Sunak is rightly set to apologise for the failure of successive governments.

But it shouldn’t have taken four decades for there to be answers about what happened to patients who trusted the NHS and were so grievously betrayed by it.

Cuts are plane stupid

Does anything illustrate more graphically the folly of Britain cutting its military than the fact we haven’t got enough war planes to commemorate D-Day?

The Allied invasion of Normandy was the single greatest endeavour of the Second World War, signalling the beginning of the end of Nazi tyranny in Europe.

The Armed Forces had planned to mark the 80th anniversary of the mission on June 6 with a mass parachute drop. But instead of sending four aircraft packed with paratroopers, just one is available.

Pictured: A parachute drop pictured during the 75th anniversary of D-Day commemorations in 2019
Hercules C-130 aircraft pictured taking part in the Trooping the Colour flypast
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps (pictured, in January) was scrambling to secure additional planes after being confronted about the debacle by The Mail on Sunday

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Yes, the RAF’s fleet is stretched because of the pace of deployments, including with Nato and dropping aid into Gaza.

Yet the lack of suitable transport planes is the consequence of successive governments recklessly cutting our military strength. Only now is this being rectified.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has vowed to find more aircraft to take part in the display over Normandy, but our enemies will surely have noted the shortfall.

The D-Day commemoration honours those who made huge sacrifices to protect the nation. Only by remembering the past can we learn its lessons, and avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Weakening our military inevitably weakens our national security – a lesson we almost learned to our cost during the war.



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