Andy Burnham calls for corporate manslaughter charges for Whitehall departments after infected blood scandal

Around 3,000 people have since died after receiving contaminated blood from the health service

Andy Burnham

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has called for corporate manslaughter charges for Whitehall departments over the infected blood scandal, following the conclusion of a scathing inquiry yesterday.

The damning report into the infected blood scandal, carried out by Sir Brian Langstaff, found that authorities and the public health service knowingly exposed tens of thousands of patients to deadly infections through contaminated blood and blood products and hid the truth for decades.

Tens of thousands of people in the UK were infected with HIV and/or hepatitis after they were given contaminated blood and blood products between the 1970s and early 1990s.

Around 3,000 people have since died after receiving contaminated blood from the health service. It’s also been estimated that one person dies as a result of infected blood every four days.

The inquiry found that the scandal was not an accident and listed dozens of failures by the government and the NHS. These included, allowing the importation and distribution from 1973 of blood products made in the US and Austria which carried a high risk of causing hepatitis, using teenage boys “as objects for research” who were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated products and the deliberate destruction of documents and falsely reassuring the public and patients that blood didn’t carry Aids and hepatitis C.

Sir Brian concluded that ‘the infections happened because those in authority – doctors, the blood services and successive governments – did not put patient safety first.’

Former Health Secretary Burnham, a long-time advocate for victims of the scandal, has said that corporate manslaughter charges should be considered.

He told LBC that he was lied to as recently as 2009 over the lack of risk. He said: “There should be consideration of prosecutions. This was a criminal cover up on an industrial scale and I think Sir Brian’s report confirms that today – this is a cover-up that’s had huge consequences for people’s lives and therefore there has to be accountability…

“I believe there’s a case for corporate manslaughter against Whitehall departments. The definition of that is if there’s behaviour in a corporate entity that puts lives at risk and that’s clearly what’s happened here. Because of the cover-up people didn’t know about the full extent of the risks they were facing and that’s a very serious matter indeed. How is Whitehall going to change until it is held accountable in the way it needs to be?”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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