Rishi Sunak issues formal apology after report blaming several governments

The investigation above all denounces the responsibility of successive governments, which were slow to act when the scandal emerged.


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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak makes a statement following the publication of the final report of the tainted blood inquiry on May 20, 2024 in London.  (JESSICA TAYLOR / UK PARLIAMENT / AFP)

After seven years of work and the hearing of thousands of witnesses and the examination of tens of thousands of documents, the public inquiry into the tainted blood scandal in the United Kingdom, which left nearly 3,000 dead, has released its conclusions, Monday May 20, in a report.

Between the 1970s and 1990s, thousands of people suffering from hemophilia or who had undergone surgical operations were infected with the hepatitis C virus and HIV after receiving blood transfusions. “This disaster was not an accident. Contaminations occurred because those in charge — doctors, blood services and successive governments — failed to prioritize patient safety“insisted former judge Brian Langstaff, appointed in 2018 to lead this vast investigation, quoted in a press release.

The scale of what happened is horrifying“, describes the former magistrate in his report of more than 2,500 pages. The decision to open a public inquiry to shed light on this tragedy was taken in 2017 by the government. Due to blood shortages, the public health service, the National Health Service, turned to American suppliers who paid their donors, who included prisoners and members of other groups at significant risk of infection.

The report denounces the responsibility of successive governments, which were slow to act when the scandal emerged. “It is now time to recognize this disaster at the national level and grant fair compensation to all those who have suffered harm.“, notes Brian Langstaff.

I want to wholeheartedly and unequivocally apologize for this terrible injustice“, declared the head of government before Parliament, after the publication of the investigation. Evoking a “day of shame“for the British state, Rishi Sunak stressed that his government would unveil on May 21 a compensation program in the face of what is considered to be “the worst medical disaster” from the history of the British public health system, the NHS.

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