Key document handed to inquiry

Written by Jessica Bomford, December 15, 2022

Tomorrow we will be submitting a key document to the Infected Blood Inquiry which focuses on its all-important final report and recommendations.

Over the last year, we’ve organised three major surveys, held webinars and had many individual conversations with you, our members, to ensure that our final submission reflects your views. More than 600 people responded to our surveys on compensation, non-financial compensation and, most recently, on issues relating to actions of the past.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to comment on these crucial issues.

We, like all core participants, have the opportunity to tell Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of the inquiry, what recommendations and findings of fact we think he should make. Our document will focus on what changes could be made to improve safety, treatment and care for people with bleeding disorders, as well as looking back on key areas that went wrong. We must also consider all the evidence heard about the role of the Haemophilia Society and respond to the points raised.  

Our last survey, sent out in October, helped us to highlight what areas to focus on when considering the actions of the past, which makes up a relatively small section of the overall document.  We had 62 responses from members, of which 12% were infected as well as affected, 50% affected and 38% infected.

The survey found that your top priority was to address the response of government, followed by candour and cover-up, viral inactivation, treatment and support, self-sufficiency in blood, stigma and decision-making in medical advisory committees. Any suggested findings submitted on these issues must be based on evidence heard by the inquiry.

On the importance of  ‘candour and cover-up’ being addressed, one respondent summed up the views of many when they wrote: ‘This topic, I fear, is one which has the potential to cause the greatest anguish and anger – but one which nevertheless has to be appraised if there is to be accountability and a very genuine attempt at reparation of any small degree, given how it is impossible to repair so many ruined lives.’

Our final submission cannot re-hash all that the inquiry has heard, and it probably would not be very helpful to Sir Brian if it did. What we’re aiming for, in partnership with our legal representatives Eversheds Sutherland, is to use the evidence given to the inquiry to focus on the key issues of importance to improving the lives of people with bleeding disorders in the future as well as ensuring that mistakes from the past cannot be repeated. Our final submissions document will be available to read on the inquiry’s website, although we do not yet know when it will be published.

From 17 January until 3 February 2023, recognised legal representatives, as well as a few individuals, will give oral presentations to the inquiry about final findings of fact and recommendations. The Haemophilia Society’s counsel, Katie Gollop KC, will make her presentation on Thursday, 19 January at 10am. The full timetable is here.