The Blog

David Cameron Urged to Apologise Over Contaminated Blood Travesty

Will David Cameron be the prime minister who finally says those two important words to acknowledge the suffering of contaminated blood victims and their families, "I'm sorry".

Innocent patients and families of those infected with contaminated blood provided by the NHS - 2,000 of whom died as a result - are hoping that the outcome of the Penrose inquiry in Scotland into this terrible tragedy will pave the way for a public apology from David Cameron.

Astonishingly, successive governments in England have refused to hold an official inquiry into why this happened 30 years ago. Of the 3,000 patients who were fortunate enough to survive, 1,200 become infected with HIV, on top of Hepatitis C, after being given contaminated blood which had been imported from America from US suppliers who used what became known as 'skid row' donors, such as prison inmates, who were more likely to have HIV and Hepatitis C. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

Lord Penrose held a year long inquiry in Scotland on behalf of Scottish victims who suffered during this time; it is the first ever official inquiry of its kind. As the contaminated blood was used pre-devolution, and under the care of our government, campaigners hope that the UK government acknowledges publicly the travesty which took place, apologises for it, and puts in place proper support packages, including compensation, for all haemophilia victims and the bereaved.

Sue Threakhall, whose husband Bob, a haemophiliac, was diagnosed with HIV after being given contaminated blood in 1985 and is chair of the campaign group, Tainted Blood, says:

"We very much welcome the Penrose inquiry, the first official public inquiry to be held on this issue, and although its focus is on what happened in Scotland, the events that took place occurred pre-devolution, so the Westminster government will have to treat the findings and recommendations seriously.

"Although the evidence had all been given, solicitors acting for the families have requested that Lord Penrose looks again at some of the statistical evidence on the number of haemophilia infections and deaths, and this is being done next Monday, 29 October.

"I want to see us treated with the same amount of gravity as the Hillsborough victims and Jimmy Savile's. I want us all to be able to live what is left of our lives without having to campaign and battle every day for what most people know to be right. It is very difficult to maintain an impassioned level of campaigning year after year, decade after decade. Many of the surviving haemophiliacs (if not most) are now very sick and physically wrung out.

"I am the only member of the TB committee who is not actually infected with anything, the others are multiply infected - and even I find this very hard. Some days, especially after another political kick in the teeth, it is all we can do to pick ourselves up and carry on."

As I said before, we expect our NHS to cure us, not kill us, yet it has never been accountable for this most awful and heinous disaster where innocent people died or suffered appalling health problems as a result of the treatment they received.

Why are they are still waiting for an apology? We have had apologies for the Hillsborough tragedy after a 23 year wait, and the government is grilling BBC chiefs over the recent Jimmy Savile revelations. And while nobody died at his hands, and the country is justifiably shocked at the apparent cover up over his allegedly disgraceful behaviour, why isn't there the same sense of national outrage about thousands of innocent NHS patients whose lives have been lost or devastated because of the contaminated blood they were given?

Even though Lord Winston described this as the "worst ever treatment disaster in the history of the NHS", the families are still waiting for an apology.

Even though an inquiry led by Lord Archer of Sandwell described it as a "horrific human tragedy", they are still waiting for an apology.

Will David Cameron be the prime minister who finally says those two important words to acknowledge the suffering of contaminated blood victims and their families, "I'm sorry".