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Infected blood scandal: “Chilling” cover up hid truth for decades, public inquiry finds

BMJ 2024; 385 doi: (Published 21 May 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;385:q1139

Linked Opinion

The Infected Blood Inquiry: we need some honesty and engagement by those in authority

  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

A cover up by the NHS and the UK government hid the truth for decades from tens of thousands of people infected by blood products or blood transfusions, the judge chairing the public inquiry into the worst treatment disaster in NHS history has concluded.1

“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,” said the report by the retired High Court judge Brian Langstaff. “To save face and to save expense, there has been a hiding of much of the truth.”

The six year public inquiry into how 30 000 people—those with haemophilia who were treated with blood products and patients who received blood transfusions—came to be infected with HIV and hepatitis C found that documents were deliberately destroyed. A government report on why the UK had not become self-sufficient in blood products earlier than it did was “redrafted to hide significant information.”

Over the years government ministers parroted “lines to take” devised by civil servants …

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