The Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) has effectively contradicted itself with regards to what it has said in public at the Infected Blood Public Inquiry and its position in relation to the Contaminated Blood Group Litigation, which is currently working its way through the High Court.
At the Public Inquiry’s opening in September 2018, Eleanor Grey QC, representing the DHSC confirmed that the Department has not been in any way candid with those infected or affected by the contaminated blood scandal. She said that: “There have been eloquent statements about breaches of trust experienced, as well as many reminders of what may, at worst, have been a cover-up, or, at best, a lack of candour about past events.”
Running concurrently with the Public Inquiry, the Contaminated Blood Products Group Action (GLO) is set for a further hearing on 30th November 2018. The Group Order was granted in July 2017, just one week before the Prime Minister announced the Infected Blood Public Inquiry.
The GLO was brought by Collins Solicitors on behalf of 500+ clients and will challenge the settlement of the litigation by many people who were either infected or affected by the contaminated blood products Factor VIII & Factor IX in the 1970s and 1980s. At the time the government effectively decided not to be transparent and it withheld documents that could (and should) have been made available to the victims. This information has come to light in the intervening years. There is also significant additional documentation that has come to light that is available as well as a significant amount of material that remains withheld.
Collins Solicitors has given the DHSC every opportunity to reconsider whether it wishes to contest the GLO in the High Court, given its public declaration that it has not been either transparent or straightforward with the public; however, the indications are that the DHSC intends to fight the victims and their families all the way.
Des Collins, Senior Partner of Collins Solicitors, comments:
“The Department of Health & Social Care’s position before the two different forums is entirely inconsistent. In effect the DHSC is saying at the Public Inquiry that they need to be more open and at the GLO that they have already offered full disclosure.
It appears to be intent on dragging the victims and their families of infected blood products through as much pain and suffering as possible. It also seems determined to string legal proceedings out for as long as possible. As things stand the victims and their families will have to endure both the Group Litigation Action going through the High Court and the Public Inquiry investigation into what happened and why.
We have provided the Department with every opportunity to see common sense, but it appears to be in denial.”
**Notes to Editors*
Further details on the background to this matter, its history, a timeline and relevant statistics are available here:
In the 1970s and 1980s, Factor VIII and Factor IX Concentrate Products were the most commonly used products to treat Haemophilia and were particularly high risk, with Factor VIII entering routine use in the late 1970s.
It is estimated that in the UK, almost 4,000 haemophiliacs who were given these treatments were infected with Hepatitis C, whilst over 1,243 also contracted HIV, in many of whom this then progressed to AIDS.
Some victims unwittingly infected their partners with HIV, of whom at least 31 have died.
The failure to act is estimated to have caused over 2,000 deaths nationwide, so far. Many victims died too early to be treated with modern life-prolonging medication, without which the death toll would have been much higher.
Fewer than 250 of the haemophiliacs who were “co-infected” with both Hepatitis C & HIV remain alive, most had died before 1997. Those who survive face a lifetime on medication having to cope with both a serious illness and truly shocking discrimination.
Infected Blood Public Inquiry Timeline:
After many years of campaigning by the victims of the Contaminated Blood Scandal, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced the Infected Blood Public Inquiry on 11th July, 2017.
While the inquiry was originally sponsored by the Department of Health, it was transferred to the Cabinet Office on 3rd November, 2017.
A statement from the Prime Minister followed on 21st December, 2017 announcing that the forthcoming inquiry would be a full Public Inquiry.
Mr. Justice Langstaff was announced as Chair to the Public Inquiry on 8th February 2018, which was scheduled to start sitting in May 2018.
The consultation period with victims of the contaminated blood scandal to set the ‘terms of reference’ of the inquiry lasted until 26th April, 2018.
The Public Inquiry formally opened on 2nd July, 2018 with the first Public Hearings held on 24th – 26th September 2018.
Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation Order:
In addition to the Public Inquiry, Collins Solicitors applied for the ‘Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation Order’ on behalf of its clients on 4th July, 2017 and this was granted on 27th October, 2017. Collins Solicitors also represents over 500 victims and their families in this matter.
The High Court also ordered the Department of Health to disclose documents relating to previous litigation linked to the Contaminated Blood Scandal.
The Court has ordered that all new claimants must join the Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation and be on the register by 30th November, 2018.
Collins Solicitors represents more than 800 victims, their families and seven campaign groups, including:
o Birchgrove Group
o Factor 8
o Fatherless Generation
o Forgotten few
o Manor House
o Positive Women
o Tainted Blood
Anyone affected by the issues covered by the Infected Blood Public Inquiry, whether victims or relatives of victims, has the right to be represented.
To join the Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation, please contact Collins Solicitors on 01923 223 324 and ask for the Contaminated Blood Team, or email the firm at firstname.lastname@example.org