Home » ‘A day of shame’, says UK PM Sunak as he apologises for infected blood scandal – World News

‘A day of shame’, says UK PM Sunak as he apologises for infected blood scandal – World News

Rishi Sunak declared Monday a “day of shame for the British state” as he apologised for the failures of successive governments in handling the infected blood scandal, Reuters reported. He promised to provide the necessary funds to compensate the victims of the scandal.

The prime minister made his apology in a packed House of Commons chamber, just hours after Brian Langstaff released his report accusing the British government of covering up the disaster, Reuters reported.

Sunak’s criticism included all parts of the British government, highlighting failures by ministers, civil servants, and the NHS. However, the prime minister himself was criticized for not establishing a compensation scheme a year ago when it was first recommended by Langstaff, causing further pain to the victims.

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According to a report by Reuters, he said, “The result of this inquiry should shake our nation to its core”. He added that ministers and institutions had failed in the most “harrowing and devastating way”.

“I want to make a wholehearted unequivocal apology for this terrible injustice”, he told parliament and promised full compensation to those affected, Reuters reported.

Infected blood scandal that killed 3,000

A public inquiry reported on Monday that the infected blood scandal in Britain, which led to 3,000 deaths and thousands contracting hepatitis or HIV, was caused by doctors and successive governments. 

According to a report by Reuters, inquiry chair Brian Langstaff revealed that over 30,000 people received infected blood and blood products in the 1970s and 1980s from the National Health Service, devastating countless lives.

Langstaff stated that the government concealed the truth to “save face and expense,” describing the cover-up as more insidious and chilling than any orchestrated conspiracy. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared it “a day of shame for the British state” and apologized for the “harrowing and devastating” failures of ministers and institutions. He promised full compensation to those affected.

Families of victims and survivors had long sought justice. Langstaff, leading a six-year inquiry, highlighted the horrifying scale of the scandal, where blood products from high-risk groups, including U.S. prisoners, were used on children, infecting them with HIV or hepatitis C despite known risks. Some victims were unknowingly used in medical trials and subsequently shunned by their communities.

Stephen Lawrence, who contracted HIV and Hepatitis C at 15 after receiving blood following an accident, expressed his struggle for justice, as his records had gone missing. The British government made an interim payment of 100,000 pounds ($126,990) to some victims in 2022.

The scandal, which also affected thousands in the U.S., France, Canada, and other countries, has significantly eroded trust in the medical establishment. Clive Smith, chair of the Haemophilia Society, emphasized the challenge to the trust placed in medical professionals.

The inquiry detailed how infected blood was used in transfusions and treatments for bleeding disorders, with haemophiliacs particularly at risk. Authorities failed to switch to safer alternatives, resulting in widespread infection. Despite the grave findings, the inquiry does not have the power to recommend prosecutions.