Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland victims of blood scandal urged to have say at inquiry

By Sally Wardle

The contaminated blood inquiry will examine whether there was an attempt to cover up the scandal, its chairman has said.

The probe will consider the treatment of thousands of people in the 1970s and 1980s who were given blood products infected with hepatitis viruses and HIV, and the impact this had on their families.

The terms of reference said the inquiry will consider "whether there have been attempts to conceal details of what happened" through the destruction of documents or withholding of information.

It will also consider if those attempts were deliberate and if "there has been a lack of openness or candour" in the response of the Government, NHS bodies and other officials.

Inquiry chair Sir Brian Langstaff vowed he would "put the people who have been infected and affected "at its heart".

With the first hearing due in September, Northern Ireland victims have been encouraged to come forward to give evidence.

Simon Hamilton, chair of Haemophilia Northern Ireland, said: "Monday's announcement will be a pivotal moment for these families, who have seen their lives torn apart for more than 30 years through no fault of their own.

"Many haemophiliacs and their families have had to live with the consequences of being infected with contaminated blood and it is still taking its toll on family situations and on the health of those who were infected and have survived, and all their stories need to be told.

"While this is a UK-wide problem, Haemophilia NI has been working with the Welsh and Scottish societies to ensure the distinct regional aspects relating to health policy and treatment are met in the terms of reference for this very important public inquiry."

Prime Minister Theresa May announced last year an inquiry would be held into the events of the 1970s and 1980s.

Thousands of haemophiliacs and other patients in the UK were given infected blood products, leaving at least 2,400 people dead.

Belfast Telegraph

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