I welcomed the decision from the minority Government to address the contaminated blood scandal. This decision was announced yesterday after the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood, which I’m a member of, successfully secured an Urgent Debate on the floor of the House of Commons.
The contaminated blood scandal dates back over 45 years and in that time it is estimated that 2,500 people have so far died because of this failure. The cause of the scandal was the use of contaminated blood products – mainly sourced from the United States as the UK had a shortage of blood donors – which were administered to people who then became infected with blood viruses such Hepatitis C, HIV and a number of other life altering diseases.
The scandal took place in every nation of the UK and there has been a long campaign – including calls from the Welsh Assembly Government in January this year – for the UK Government to implement a UK wide inquiry.
During the debate I delivered a speech – which can be read here – which focused on two main points:
• We need to know the history of these events, what caused them, what could have been done to prevent them and who is liable and responsible.
• What the State does for those who have no blame in this matter, and what type of support is given to those who are now facing the challenges resulting from the scandal.
The Minister responded to my concerns to reassure him that this inquiry will put families first, as the Hillsborough Inquiry did, and the Department for Health will be in contact with all known victims to ask for their views on how the inquiry should be formed and what areas they want investigated.
The long-awaited decision to finally establish an independent inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal is a positive step forward. I know of constituents who have been impacted upon by this scandal and they have had their lives dramatically changed. They are innocent victims and deserve to get justice from the state.
I will be monitoring the inquiry closely to ensure that families of those infected are put front and centre. This must be an inquiry that they have faith in and believe that it will provide them with the answers and compensation they deserve.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood has been campaigning hard since it was established in 2010. We have worked hard for our constituents to get to this point, but that does not mean that we will be easing the pressure on the Government. If this inquiry deviates from producing an open and honest report we will be front and centre demanding a proper inquiry.