Infected Blood Inquiry

Infected Blood Inquiry – worst treatment disaster in NHS history could have been avoided

The infected blood scandal, which has been dubbed the biggest treatment disaster in NHS history, could have largely been avoided.

That is according to the Infection Blood Inquiry’s chair, Sir Brian Langstaff, who writes: “I have to report a catalogue of failures which caused this to happen. Each on its own is serious. Taken together they are a calamity.

“Lord Winston famously called these events “the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS”.

“I have to report that it could largely, though not entirely, have been avoided. And I have to report that it should have been.”

During a statement given at Westminster, Sir Brian Langstaff, said: “In families across the UK people were treated in hospital and at home with blood and blood products, and that NHS treatment resulted in over 30,000 people being infected with viruses which were life-shattering.

“Over 3,000 have already died and that number is climbing week by week.”

The report finds that people were repeatedly failed by doctors, NHS bodies, and by the government. Six key themes are listed, including:

  • The failure to make patient safety the focus of decision-making and action
  • The slow and protracted nature of much of the decision-making process
  • The unethical lack of respect for individual patient autonomy
  • The dangers of clinical freedom
  • The institutional defensiveness, and associated lack of transparency and candour, that damaged public interest
  • The institutional defensiveness, and associated lack of transparency and candour, that impacted people’s lives who had been destroyed by infection

One of the most important things the report wanted to investigate was whether there were attempts to conceal what happened which is addressed when it outlines how a lack of openness had seen the truth hidden for decades, along with the deliberate destruction of some documents and the loss of others.

Read the full report here.

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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