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NHS England head offers ‘heartfelt’ apology for victims of infected blood scandal

Amanda Pritchard has acknowledged the poor processes and failures that led to the greatest scandal in the NHS’s history

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, has issued an official apology to the victims of the infected blood scandal. Her apology comes as the new final report of the Infected Blood Inquiry found that thousands of deaths could have been avoided.

In its 2,527-page report, the inquiry concluded that the scandal was due to a ‘catalogue of failures’ and cover-ups by the Government and the NHS, leaving more than 30,000 people infected with hepatitis C and HIV between the 1970s and 1990s.

‘Today’s report brings to an end a long fight for answers and understanding that those people who were infected and their families, should never have had to face,’ said Ms Pritchard.

‘In particular, I want to say sorry not just for the actions which led to life-altering and life-limiting illness, but also for the failures to clearly communicate, investigate and mitigate risks to patients from transfusions and treatments; for a collective lack of openness and willingness to listen, that denied patients and families the answers and support they needed; and for the stigma that many experienced in the health service when they most needed support.’

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The British Medical Association (BMA) has welcomed the report which finally provides transparency and truth to the victims, but called it a ‘day of shame’ for the health service.

The BMA has called on responsible parties to account for the inquiry’s recommendations ‘to ensure nothing as tragic can happen in our health service ever again’.

Both the Government and the NHS have promised to act on the report’s proposals to support and compensate victims and families of the scandal.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that ministers have earmarked around £10 billion for a ‘comprehensive compensation’ package. ‘Whatever it costs to deliver this scheme, we will pay it,’ he said.

Ms Pritchard added that the NHS is working with the Department of Health and Social Care to establish a bespoke psychological support service for the victims, which is said to be ready to support them this summer.