A UK-wide inquiry into a contaminated blood scandal that left at least
2,400 people dead will look at whether there was a cover-up by the
authorities and if documents were destroyed. Treatments including
blood transfusions infected thousands of patients with HIV and
hepatitis C in the 1970s and 1980s. It has been called the worst
treatment disaster in the history of the NHS. The terms of reference
have now been published by the judge chairing the public inquiry, Sir
Brian Langstaff.  In a letter to the Minister for the Cabinet Office,
David Lidington, Sir Brian said it would consider what had happened
and why and the response of government and others. Many of those
affected and their families say they were not told of the risks
involved. Patients in other countries were also infected. It was
revealed on Monday that the process of gathering evidence would begin
this week and the inquiry would take between two and four years.  The
first public hearings involving victims and their families will be in
late September but the inquiry is likely then to hold private sessions
until the New Year. Sir Brian said: “What is difficult to comprehend
is the sheer scale of what happened.
“The numbers of people, both adults and children, from all walks of
life, who were infected by Hepatitis viruses, or HIV, from clotting
factor or transfused blood runs into thousands.  “At least as many
more – including partners, children, parents, families, friends or
carers – have been affected. “This may have happened principally in
the 1970s and 1980s but the consequences persist today with people
continuing to feel the mental, physical, social, work-related and
financial effects. “Many of the people infected and their families
have battled for years to understand what happened and how they have
been treated since.  “I aim to put the people who have been infected
and affected at the heart of this inquiry. “I am determined to get to
the truth and where necessary will use the inquiry’s power to compel
witnesses to explain their actions.” He urged people with knowledge or
personal experience who might be able to help the inquiry to come
forward.  Campaigners who have fought for decades for a full
independent investigation welcomed the announcement by Sir Brian.
Jason Evans was just four years old when his father, Jonathan, a
haemophiliac, died after being infected with HIV through a
contaminated blood product.  He said he was “very happy with the terms
of reference”.

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