Yesterday, the UK Government accepted the terms of reference recommended by Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry.
This means that the Inquiry is now formally established and can begin its investigative work. A lot of documents giving information and guidance have now been published.
There is a new section on the Infected Blood Inquiry website called Statements of Approach which provides a lot of information that affected people need.
- Guide to statements of approach
- Invitation to witnesses
- Form to express interest in providing evidence
- Written statements
- Anonymity and redaction
- Core participants
- Chair’s statement on core participants
- Legal representation at public expense
- Notice of Determination
The next stage of the Inquiry’s work will be the gathering of evidence. The Inquiry will be asking government, the NHS and many other organisations who hold relevant documents to disclose them to the Inquiry. The experiences of infected and affected people, which includes family members, are a very important part of the evidence for the Inquiry. They have made it clear that you should feel under no obligation to share your experience but they anticipate that many people will want to do this.
There is also a new section of the Infected Blood Inquiry website on Evidence and Public Hearings. This section contains a short form that people can use to register their interest in providing evidence which the Inquiry have asked people to complete by 20 July.
If you or someone you know has questions about any of this information or requires assistance completing the application form then there are lots of places you can go for support.
- You can contact us here at Haemophilia Scotland. Email our CEO, Dan Farthing-Sykes on firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 0131 524 7286.
- The Scottish Infected Blood Forum (SIBF) can be contacted through their website at www.sibf.org.uk
- Both the Scottish Charities are working with Thompsons Solicitors Scotland on the Infected Blood Inquiry. If you register with them directly they can provide legal information and support for you. Register with them at www.contaminatedbloodregister.co.uk
- You can also contact the Inquiry directly for help using email@example.com or their freephone number 0808 169 1377. If you prefer you can write to them at Infected Blood Inquiry, Fleetbank House, 1st Floor, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London, EC4Y 8AE
If you would like to come and discuss the Inquiry with other affected people in Scotland and put your questions to a member of the Inquiry Team then please come to our joint, Haemophilia Scotland / SIBF meeting on the Sat 14 July at the Mercure City Hotel Glasgow from 11:30pm.
Key campaigners in Scotland are now carefully examining the Terms of References and other documents in advance of the campaign meeting. However, here is some of the initial response from Scotland.
Key Scottish campaigners were interviewed for STV news yesterday.
Scottish campaigners also provided quotes to the press.
The Chair of Haemophilia Scotland, Bill Wright, said,
This Inquiry will be very different in nature to the controversial Penrose Inquiry in Scotland. Given the scale and complexity of the disaster affecting thousands of people across the whole of the UK it presents an unprecedented challenge for Sir Brian Langstaff and his Inquiry team.
Unlike the Penrose Inquiry, survivors, families and campaign groups will be much more heavily involved in shaping the course of the Inquiry. That will present not only opportunities but also need time, energy and willingness from a community which has already been severely tested.
Far too many people died awaiting Governments and agencies facing meaningful scrutiny of their response to the biggest disaster in the 70-year history of the NHS. Longstanding hopes now rest with the Inquiry in getting to the truth and overcoming the dark blanket of concealment that has dogged government responses throughout the decade’s long history of this travesty.
The Convener of the Scottish Infected Blood Forum, John Rice, said,
The history of how we’ve been treated is obscene. Successive Governments have dragged their heels seemingly waiting for all those affected to die. Everyone who has been involved in this tragedy has been left without any straight answers and without the practical help they need. They’ve been left hanging in the wind. I hope this Inquiry is serious about getting to the truth and making recommendations which will really help people because we’ve all suffered more than enough.
Independent Scottish Campaigner, Bruce Norval, said,
A lot of my friends have already died waiting for answers. Every few weeks another victim dies so I know I’ll have lost more friends before the Inquiry is over. As a community we just can’t afford for this Inquiry to fail. It must be brave enough to ask the right questions and demand real answers. Too many of us don’t have time for half measures anymore.
SIBF Trustee and Campaigning Widow, Joyce Donnelly, said,
Campaigning for justice for so many years has taken its own toll on us all. We are a strong and resilient group but nobody should have to re-live the worst experiences of their life again and again to get justice. The Inquiry has started well by being open about speaking to affected people. It’s so important that they make at is easy as possible for everyone to get a fair hearing. There are wives, widows, children, and parents, as well as infected people who have been affected by this disaster. They all must be listened to and respected.
SIBF Trustee and Campaigning widow, Cathy Young, said,
Many of those who have died have left behind children who are growing up not really knowing what happened to their Dad or Mum. Those kids have not only lost a parent but they’ve lost the financial security they deserve. Whatever else this Inquiry does it mustn’t forget to make sure that the families are protected.
The CEO of Haemophilia Scotland, Dan Farthing, said,
This will be a much wider ranging investigation of the disaster than the Penrose Inquiry delivered. Instead of restricting the Terms of Reference to hepatitis C and HIV the Infected Blood Inquiry will look at the whole pattern of repeated exposure including hepatitis B and CJD. Crucially, the Infected Blood Inquiry will test the response from Government and government agencies to investigate if there has been a cover-up.
Haemophilia Scotland’s focus throughout this Inquiry will be making sure that the parts of this disaster which are different here in Scotland are fully considered. We want the Inquiry to make recommendations which improve treatment, care, safety, and support for everyone with bleeding disorders. We must properly care for all those affected by the disaster and learn all relevant lessons to minimise the chances of any more patients ever going through a similar disaster.
The Scottish Infected Blood Forum’s Manager, Tommy Leggate, said,
Over 3,000 people were given contaminated blood from transfusions and blood products in Scotland, and most have already died. The vast majority received blood transfusions. Across the UK over 33,000 are estimated to have been infected. More than 24,000 have already died seeking but failing to find justice.
We are trusting that this Inquiry will answer the questions the survivors and families of the dead want, and need to know. They don’t want another Inquiry which covers-up the facts and protects those culpable. SIBF and Haemophilia Scotland have, and will continue to work jointly together to ensure those infected and affected in Scotland get the answers, recognition and the commensurate financial support they so deserve.