Final report into infected blood scandal delayed again

The publication of the final report into the infected blood scandal has been delayed amid growing pressure for victims to finally receive justice.

The chairman of an inquiry into the scandal has apologised after pushing back the publication by two more months.

Victims and their loved ones were initially expecting the report to be published in autumn last year. This was delayed until March, but the inquiry has now confirmed the final report will not be published until May.

Sir Brian Langstaff, chairman of the inquiry, said: “I am sorry to tell you that the report will be published later than March. That is not what I had intended. I am acutely aware of the need for the report to be available as soon as possible.

“When I reviewed the plans for publication, I nonetheless had to accept that a limited amount of further time is needed to publish a report of this gravity and do justice to what has happened.”

He added: “The Inquiry’s final recommendations on compensation were published in April 2023. My principal recommendation remains that a compensation scheme should be set up with urgency.

“No-one should be in any doubt about the serious nature of the failings over more than six decades that have led to catastrophic loss of life and compounded suffering.”

The Infection Blood Inquiry’s final report will be published on May 20 2024. The inquiry team said the document will “set out and explain the many failings at systemic, collective and individual levels over more than six decades”.

Factor 8 protest for victims of the infected blood scandal (Factor 8)
Factor 8 protest for victims of the infected blood scandal (Factor 8)

The delays come after last week Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt said it would not take an ITV drama for the issue of compensation for victims to be resolved.

Thousands died in the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS after being given blood products contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C through in the 1970s and 1980s.

ITV’s recent dramatisation of the Post Office Horizon scandal Mr Bates vs The Post Office prompted Government announcements for wrongly convicted subpostmasters.

Commenting on the delay, Rachel Halford, chief executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, said: “This delay is extremely disappointing for a community that has already been forced to wait half a century for justice. We hope that there will be no further delays in this process.

“Irrespective of when the report is published, the Government has had recommendations from Sir Brian Langstaff to proceed with setting up a compensation scheme for victims for almost a year, yet the Government has repeatedly refused to act on the Inquiry’s recommendations.

“We now expect the Government to immediately establish a full compensation scheme, and extend compensation to everyone affected, including people given hepatitis B, people infected through transfusions after 1991, and every parent who watched their child die as a result of this horrific scandal.”

Jason Evans, director of the campaign group Factor 8, added: “For six years, victims and families have patiently followed every twist and turn of the inquiry. They have campaigned, they have cried, and sadly, many have died.

“The publication of Sir Brian Langstaff’s final report will mark the end of our battle for the truth, though due to government inaction, the fight for compensation goes on.

“Though many in our community are frustrated to hear of the delay, they are very conscious that the government has everything it needs to act on compensation now, and Sir Brian has made this crystal clear in his remarks today.

“People are dying without full compensation.”