Prime Minister David Cameron has apologised to victims of the contaminated blood scandal on behalf of the British government.
It comes after the conclusion of the Penrose Inquiry which examined how hundreds of patients in Scotland came to be given blood infected with hepatitis C and HIV during the 70s and 80s.
Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions today, David Cameron said it would be down to the next government to take account of the findings, and added:
It is difficult to imagine the feelings of unfairness that people must feel at being infected by hepatitis C or HIV as a result of a totally unrelated treatment within the NHS.
To each and every one of those people, I would like to say sorry on behalf of the whole government for something that should not have happened.
He added that the government would spend £25 million into improving the compensation system for those affected.
Both he and Labour leader Ed Miliband vowed to look at the findings of the report as a matter of urgency should they be voted in at the general election.
Campaigners have demanded an apology after the conclusion of a formal inquiry into the contamination of blood in Scotland.
There were angry shouts from the audience as the final report of the Penrose Inquiry was read out, followed by a speech from Bill Wright of charity Haemophilia Scotland, who said he was among those who had been infected.
This is by no means the end of the story.
When we read this, we were raging too. But there is some daylight we will try to offer you.
Put into context, this catastrophe is bigger than any transport, football stadium, bombing or shooting atrocity, or British disaster at sea.
The difference is that our fate was spread across Scotland and Britain over many years.
Today after 30 years of waiting, is not about broken processes. It is about broken lives. It is about the irresistible case for ministers and politicians to finally act.
Now is the time for an apology.
Breaking down into tears at one point, Mr Wright said the report was the culmination of "decades of searching for the truth".
Angry shouts of "whitewash" rose from the crowd after a launch event for the final report from the Penrose Inquiry, which was launched to examine how hundreds of patients were given contaminated blood in Scotland.
Some people accused the inquiry of a "cover up".
Screams of 'whitewash' as first press conference on Penrose inquiry concludes
A formal inquiry into how hundreds of people came to be given contaminated blood has concluded that collecting blood from prisoners should have stopped sooner.
The Penrose Inquiry heard that while at the time, the Home Office favoured donations from those behind bars as it offered them a chance to contribute to society, in hindsight it was "inadvisable" due to the number of prisoners with drug problems.
The Penrose Inquiry into how hundreds of people came to be given contaminated blood has highlighted the trauma of the issue to medical staff, some of whom were suspected of being involved.
The inquiry found "no evidence" of foul play.
This is the stuff of nightmares... especially when accused of knowing or deliberate attempts to harm patients, of which the inquiry found no evidence.
Thousands of people in Scotland may be unknowingly living with hepatitis C, according to a formal inquiry into how contaminated blood was given to patients in the country during the 70s and 80s.
The Penrose Inquiry recommended that tracking these people down should be treated as a priority.
The Penrose Inquiry has found that there were 'few respects' in which matters should it could have been handled differently in respect to preventing the infection of particular groups of patients.
However, the report revealed, one area where the inquiry team believe more could have been done at the time is in the delay in introducing screening for hepatitis C.
Screening across the whole of the UK did not come into force until September 1991.
The Penrose Inquiry into how hundreds of people were given contaminated blood in Scotland has revealed the numbers of people involved.
- 478 people acquired hepatitis C from blood product therapy
- 2,500 people contracted the virus from blood transfusions between 1970 and 1991
- 60 people acquired HIV from therapy with blood products
- 18 people acquired HIV from blood transfusions
In the above cases the infections were acquired because the patient was given blood from a donor with either hepatitis C, HIV, or in some cases both.
A formal inquiry into how hundreds of people in Scotland were given blood contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C has begun by extending sympathy towards those affected.
Secretary to the inquiry Maria McCann, delivering the statement on behalf of Lord Penrose, who is seriously ill in hospital, said:
We would like to express our condolences for those who have lost loved ones and sympathy to those struggling to continue living with the consequences of infection.
A formal inquiry into how hundeds of people were given blood contaminated with hepatitis and HIV during the 70s and 80s is expected to shed light on the exact number of people affected by the large-scale blunder.
According to charity Haemophilia Scotland:
- At least 5,000 people across the UK were given contaminated blood
- Around 2,000 of these have died to date
- Between 351 and 532 infected with hepititis C
- Fewer than 200 of those alive today
- At least 71 also infected with HIV
- Fewer than 20 of those still alive today