MP leads campaign for new inquiry into contaminated blood

Credit: Friso Gentsch / DPA / PA

The Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt is leading calls for a new inquiry into how thousands of NHS patients were given contaminated blood in the 1970s and 1980s.

Just under 6,000 people are confirmed to have been exposed to Hepatitis C. Of the 6,000, 1,500 were also exposed to HIV. More than 2000 people have since died as a result.

Mr Burt has now won support in Parliament for a review of the circumstances surrounding the passing of infection via blood and blood products.

In the 1970 and 80s, blood and blood products were brought over from US donors to treat NHS patients with hemophilia, as in the UK there there was a shortage of supplies. Those donor included people deemed 'high risk' for infections, like possible drug users and prison inmates. Other patients, needing blood for a range of different reasons, were also infected by donations made in the UK.

An independent inquiry published in 2009 condemned what happened as a "horrific human tragedy". However many victims feel it did not give an adequate explanation of who was truly to blame. Others say the compensation scheme has been grossly unfair, with some receiving thousands of pounds in compensation and others getting none.

Scotland is currently conducting its own review into what happened, called the 'Penrose Inquiry', which is due to be published this March. The Department of Health says it is looking at possible improvements to the system of providing support to those affected. As part of this work, it says it plans to look at the Penrose Inquiry and is awaiting its publication.