infections and deaths were not an “accident”

infections and deaths were not an “accident”
infections and deaths were not an “accident”

It wasn’t an accident. What is considered one of the biggest health disasters in the history of the United Kingdom “could have been avoided.” But, instead, the Government withheld the information, “betraying the victims’ trust again and again”. After seven years of investigation, the retired judge Brian Langstaff published this Monday the conclusions on the scandal of transfusions with contaminated blood carried out in the 70s and 80s.

Around 30,000 people were infected with HIV, Hepatitis B, C and chronic viral diseases. More than 3,000 – including children used as “guinea pigs” – lost their lives and the number continues to rise week after week. The victims had been asking for the truth to come to light for half a century and they have finally achieved their goal with the publication of a report that has caused great shock in the country. “The Government repeatedly maintained that people were receiving the best treatment available and that testing of blood donations began as soon as the technology was available. “Both statements were false,” stressed the retired judge at the head of an investigation that began in 2018.

Langstaff claims that The risk of infection from blood transfusions has been known since at least the 1940s.but in the United Kingdom nothing was done about it, in fact, blood products continued to be imported from abroad, including from the United States, where prisoners and drug addicts were paid to donate.

By hiding the patients who were infected, they were also allowed to infect their families, in many cases leading them to social ostracism due to the stigma that existed regarding AIDS and other blood diseases. The compensation package will now exceed 12 billion euros. But for the victims, the important thing is to get justice. “Now the country and the entire world know that there was a deliberate attempt to lie and hide”says the activist Clive Smith. However, no one will go to jail.

The investigation concludes that successive governments were “more concerned about reputational damage than about openness and honesty.”. “The answer to the question ‘was there a cover-up?’ there has been. Not in the sense of a handful of people hatching an orchestrated conspiracy to deceive, but in a way that is more subtle, more penetrating, and more chilling in its implications. “In this way, a large part of the truth has been hidden,” he clarifies.

The NHS engaged in “defensive closing ranks” rather than launching investigations or apologizing to the thousands of infected. There were “systemic, collective and individual failures to ethically, adequately and rapidly address the risk of blood-borne infection transmission.”

One of the most devastating chapters is the one dedicated to the tragedy that unfolded in the Lord Mayor Treloar College, a Hampshire school in a haemophilia clinic. Of the 122 hemophilia patients who attended the school between 1970 and 1987, only 30 survive.

The minors were used as a “unique” experimental opportunity, “indiscriminately” providing them with blood products that turned out to be contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C, without informing them or their parents.. One heartbreaking passage details how schoolchildren were told they had been infected with HIV: “Staff went around the room saying ‘YES, NO, YES, NO’ to indicate whether they were HIV positive and then the children were sent back to school.” class”.

The current Conservative Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, apologized to the victims. But the fact that To date, the Executive has not established its compensation plans In the two years since the payments were first recommended, it is considered a “serious failure that reproduces the mistakes of the past” and “compounds the harm that has already been inflicted”, perpetuating the same lack of support that victims have been suffering. “for almost half a century.”

Three crucial sets of documents were lost or destroyed in the 1980s and 1990s. that presented a bad image of the Government. The report claims that it was “a deliberate attempt to make the truth more difficult to reveal.” The destroyed files include those detailing how many people could have been saved from hepatitis C infection. Medical records of individual patients were also lost or destroyed, making it impossible for the inquiry to seek help or understand how and when they became infected.

Furthermore, despite knowing the risks of imported blood, the United Kingdom did not manage to achieve “self-sufficiency” in blood treatments until 1990. This meant that throughout the 1980s, The NHS continued to import factor VIII, a blood plasma treatment for blood clotting, from the United States, where manufacturers paid high-risk donors, including prisoners and drug users.

Meanwhile, the UK blood services continued to collect donations from British prisons until 1984, despite the health department being warned from the early 1970s that it was unsafe.

Thousands of patients still do not know that they could be victims of the scandal. This includes two-thirds of those who received blood transfusions between 1965 and 1974, and three-quarters of children who received blood transfusions between 1975 and 1984.

 
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