‘I Am Truly Sorry’: UK Prime Minister Apologizes for Infected Blood Scandal Cover-Up

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Jun 05, 2024

The Infected Blood Inquiry formally began its work in July 2018. Nearly six years later, it has published the final report, which is nothing short of shocking.

Rishi Sunak, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, released a heartfelt apology to the some 30,000 victims of the Infected Blood crisis. He said he is “truly sorry” and will pay “whatever it costs” to ensure the injured parties and their families receive the compensation they deserve.

Understanding the Infected Blood Inquiry

Although Sunak is devastated by the results of the inquiry, he was only a child when the Infected Blood crisis occurred.

Several bags of donated blood lined up in a hospital

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Over the course of three decades, from the 1970s to the 1990s, more than 30,000 people in the UK were infected with viruses, including HIV and hepatitis, thanks to tainted blood provided by the nation’s health care system, the National Health Service (NHS.)

Who Received Tainted Blood in the United Kingdom?

At that time, the NHS essentially neglected to test blood local donors for viruses and diseases that could injure or even kill the transplant recipients. They also imported untested blood from abroad, specifically the United States, where prisoners and addicts were utilized as donors.

Two doctors care for a female patient at a hospital

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Many of the victims who received the poisoned blood had recently been in an accident, undergone surgery, given birth, or were suffering from blood disorders. Some reports say that blood transfusions were administered even when they weren’t absolutely necessary.

Hundreds of Britain’s Children Died From Infected Blood

There are also several cases in which the infected blood was used on children with bleeding disorders. However, the blood wasn’t injected to save their lives but to conduct research.

A young girl holds her teddy bear and her arm out, preparing for a shot at the hospital

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At one institution, the tainted blood was administered to 122 children with hemophilia. Sadly, only 30 of them have made it to adulthood. In total, more than 380 children died from the infected blood.

3,000 People Died From Infected Blood in the UK

Devastatingly, about 3,000 people have died due to the tainted blood administered by the NHS from the 1970s to the 1990s, and nearly 27,000 others are living with either HIV or Hepatitis C.

A doctor sits outside on the sidewalk with her head in her hands

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The author of the Infected Blood Inquiry, Judge Biran Langstaff, explained, “People put their trust in doctors and the government to keep them safe, and that trust was betrayed.”

The Infected Blood Crisis Could Have Been Avoided

This situation is horrific in itself, but unfortunately, one of the most infuriating aspects of the Infected Blood crisis is that it could have been avoided.

The logo for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) on a stethoscope

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Judge Langstadd and his team found that the NHS failed to protect British citizens from the tainted blood, even though they, in the large part, knew that it was infecting the recipients. Langstaff said, “I have to report that it could largely, though not entirely. have been avoided.”


The Inquiry Found Several Instances of the NHS Trying to Cover Up the Scandal

In addition to knowing that the blood was tainted and that it could harm or even kill the recipients, Judge Langstaff also found several examples of NHS employees and government officials actively attempting to cover up the scandal.

A faceless man in a gray sweater is shredding paper in a shredder

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Within the report, he included evidence of destroyed documents from 1993 that would have alerted the nation to the fatal mistakes decades earlier. The report said, “The answer to the question, ‘Was there a cover-up?’ is that there has been.”


Victims of the Tainted Blood Scandal Have Been Begging to Be Heard

Over the past four decades, thousands of the victims of the tainted blood scandal have been trying to get the government to acknowledge what happened to them.

The logo for the Tainted Blood campaign group

Source: Taintedblood.info

Andy Evans, the chairman of the Tainted Blood campaign group, told the press, “We have been gaslit for generations… Sometimes, we felt like we were shouting into the wind during the last 40 years.”


The Final Inflected Blood Inquiry Totaled 2,500 Pages

The Infected Blood Inquiry, which lasted more than six years, was finalized in May 2024. More than 2,500 pages of evidence proved that the NHS and the UK government had, in fact, known that the tainted blood infected 3,000 people.

Several stacks of hundreds of sheets of paper on a wooden surface

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While the report called the scandal “catastrophic” and labeled it a “catalog of failures,” Evans called the report “momentous.” He said that he and the other victims finally feel “validated and vindicated” for what they went through.


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Apologized to All UK Citizens

After the Infected Blood Inquiry released its final report, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak released an apology to the victims, their families, and the entire population of Great Britain. He said, “I am truly sorry [for the] decades-long moral failure at the heart of our national life.”

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, looks disappointed

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Sunak continued to say that the government “failed this country” and that his apology is “from the state to every single person impacted by this scandal.” He also said that this report falls on a “day of shame for the British state.”


More Than $12 Billion Will Be Awarded in Compensation

Prime Minister Sunak also said that his apology needs to be and, therefore, will be “accompanied by action.” He told the nation that he would pay “whatever it costs” to compensate the victims and their families.”

A variety of Great British Pounds are spread over a surface

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The final number has yet to be released, though it has recently been estimated that the UK government will pay more than $12 billion to the 30,000 victims.


Receiving Donated Blood Is No Longer a Risk

There is no doubt that many medical professionals and even government officials understood the dangers of infected blood between the 1970s and 1990s. However, modern medicine has come a long way since then.

A photograph of a person’s arm who is donating blood

Source: Freepik

Thankfully, all donated blood is now tested for viruses, bacteria, and parasites, and the risk of contracting any blood-borne infection is extremely low. While UK citizens can once again have faith in the NHS, it’s unlikely that anyone will forget this tragic incident that affected the lives of so many.