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News > United Kingdom

UK Infected Blood Scandal Could Have Been Avoided: Langstaff

  • People asking for justice in the case of HIV-contaminated blood.

    People asking for justice in the case of HIV-contaminated blood. | Photo: X/ @KateEMcCann

Published 20 May 2024

The contamination was caused by a clotting factor imported from the U.S., which used blood from high-risk paid donors.

On Monday, an investigation led by former judge Brian Langstaff published a report showing that the "contaminated blood scandal", which has caused more than 3,000 deaths in the United Kingdom, "could largely, though not entirely, have been avoided."


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A catalogue of failures by successive governments and doctors caused the calamity, in which tens of thousands of patients with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders were infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses after receiving infected blood and blood products between the 1970s and early 1990s.

"It may also be surprising that the questions why so many deaths and infections occurred have not had answers before now," the Langstaff report said about the scandal that has been called "the worst treatment disaster" in the history of Britain's National Health Service (NHS).

The report also revealed that there has been "a hiding of much of the truth" by the government and the NHS "to save face and to save expense."

Such a cover-up was "not in the sense of a handful of people plotting in an orchestrated conspiracy to mislead, but in a way that was more subtle, more pervasive and more chilling in its implications." 

The UK contaminated blood scandal was linked to supplies of a clotting factor imported from the United States, which used blood from high-risk paid donors.

In 2017, the British government announced the establishment of a UK-wide public inquiry to examine the circumstances that led to individuals being given contaminated blood and blood products.

In 2022, the government made interim compensation payments of 100,000 British pounds (US$127,000) to about 4,000 infected individuals and bereaved partners who were registered with the country's infected blood support schemes.

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