Monday 27 May 2024

Infected Blood Inquiry ~ Report ~ Compensation Scheme

More than 30,000 NHS patients were given contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 80s in what has been called the worst treatment disaster in the history of the health service. It is thought around 3,000 later died, after contracting HIV or hepatitis C from a treatment made from blood plasma or a blood transfusion.

In July 2017 the Prime Minister (then Theresa May) announced an inquiry to examine 'the circumstances in which men, women and children treated by national Health Services in the United Kingdom (collectively, the “NHS”) were given infected blood and infected blood products, in particular since 1970.'

 Following consultation with interested parties, Terms of Reference were issued in September 2018. The Inquiry began its hearings in April 2019. The Inquiry operated under the Inquiries Act 2005.

Infected Blood Inquiry - Chair Sir Brian Langstaff

On Monday 20 May 2024, the Inquiry published

its seven volume report - Publication Day | Infected Blood Inquiry. Volume 1 is Overview and Recommendations. Volume 2 deals with the experiences of individuals affected. Volumes 3 to 5 look at - What happened and why. Volume 6 looks at the Responses of government and public bodies and Volume 7 considers the Response of Government.

In Volume 1, Sir Brian summarised his findings and said that responsibility for much rested with successive governments, even though others may share some of it. 

He said - ' It will be astonishing to anyone who reads this Report that these events could have happened in the UK. It may also be surprising that the questions why so many deaths and infections occurred have not had answers before now. Those answers cannot be as complete as they might have been thirty years ago, and I acknowledge that despite the vast number of pages of documents which the Inquiry has examined, some questions must remain unanswered. Any errors, any omissions, any shortcomings are mine alone. 

I have no doubt however that, despite the difficulties of time and scale, the conclusion that wrongs were done on individual, collective and systemic levels is fully justified by the pages that follow; that a level of suffering which it is difficult to comprehend, still less understand, has been caused to so many, and that this harm has, for those who survived long enough to face it and for those who, infected and affected, are now able to read this, been compounded by the reaction of the government, NHS bodies, other public bodies, the medical professions and others as described in the Report.' [My emphasis].

On 20 May 2024, the Prime Minister (Rishi Sunak) told MPs that - 'This is a day of shame for the British state. Today’s report shows a decades-long moral failure at the heart of our national life. From the national health service to the civil service, to Ministers in successive Governments, at every level the people and institutions in which we place our trust failed in the most harrowing and devastating way. They failed the victims and their families, and they failed this country.'

As we now know, two days after Sunak's statement, a general election was called. The next government and Parliament will fall to be judged on how they implement the Inquiry Report. A crucial first step will be to ensure that the final compensation scheme is implemented.

Infected Blood Inquiry Report - Hansard - UK Parliament

Three questions that will determine the Infected Blood Inquiry’s success | Institute for Government

*** Parliament and Government ***

The Inquiry recommends a key role for the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee UK Parliament.

Recommendations 12 d and e state

(d) The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (“PACAC”) should review both the progress towards responding to the Inquiry’s recommendations and, to the extent that they are accepted, implementing those recommendations 

(e) PACAC should accept the role in respect of any future statutory inquiry of reviewing government’s timetable for consideration of recommendations, and of its progress towards implementation of that inquiry’s recommendations.

Sir Brain was clearly concerned that action is taken on the recommendations his Inquiry has made. It will be for the House of Commons to decide whether to alter the role of PACAC.

On any view, there is a problem with recommendations. First, they are just that - recommendations - and so government is free to accept or reject them. Secondly, there appears to be very little Parliamentary follow-up on Inquiry reports and there is too often a lack of scrutiny of Ministerial action.

*** Compensation ***

Infected Blood Interim Compensation Payment Scheme - GOV.UK (

Infected Blood Compensation body and Victims and Prisoners Bill become law - GOV.UK (

Ministers accept three-month deadline for infected blood scheme - BBC News). 

The Labour Party proposed an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill and that was accepted by the government. The Bill became an Act as part of the general election "wash up" and creates the Infected Blood Compensation Authority (IBCA). 

Before the IBCA can make final payments, the Government has to make Regulations to enact the compensation scheme for victims of the Infected Blood scandal. The legislation also means that the final regulations must be made by the Government - within three months, so by 24 August 2024. 

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