David Cameron apologises over HIV and hep C infected blood scandal

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Prime Minister David Cameron has apologised over a report which revealed that hundreds of people were given blood infected with HIV and hepatitis C.

The Penrose Report, which arose following a public inquiry set up by the Scottish Government, revealed that hundreds of people, many haemophiliacs, were given infected blood by the NHS in the 1970s and 1980s in Scotland.

Speaking at the last Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) before May’s general election, Mr Cameron said: “To each and every one of those people I would like to say sorry on behalf of the Government for something that should not have happened.

“While it will be for the next government to take account of these findings, it is right that we use this moment to recognise the pain and the suffering experienced by people as a result of this tragedy.

“It is difficult to imagine the feelings of unfairness that people must feel at being infected with hepatitis C and HIV as a result of a totally unrelated treatment within the NHS.”

As the findings from Lord Penrose, who led the inquiry but who was ill, were read out by the inquiry secretary Maria McCann, some in attendance called out “whitewash”.

Lord Penrose’s findings said: “For people infected by HIV/Aids and/or hepatitis C, the impact on their lives and the lives of their loved ones has often been devastating.

“I would also comment on the often forgotten suffering of clinical staff, who discovered that the treatments they thought were beneficial to patients actually caused them to become infected with life-threatening conditions.

“They too have been affected, especially when accused of knowing or deliberate attempts to harm patients.”

The main recommendation from the report was that anyone who got blood transfusions from the 1970s until 1991 should be tested for hepatitis C.

One of those affected by the donor blood Bruce Norval described the report as “a piece of nonsense”.

Adding to the apology from Mr Cameron was Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison, who apologised on behalf of the NHS and the Scottish Government.

While the Penrose inquiry only looked at victims in Scotland, thousands more were thought to have been infected at the time in England and Wales.