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Indications from today’s hearing suggest no further evidence will be taken

A Scottish Public Inquiry into the NHS blood scandal has said it will stop short of producing a definitive figure relating to the number of people infected. That was the conclusion today (Monday) from the Penrose Inquiry into Hepatitis C and HIV infection from blood and blood products used by the NHS. An additional hearing was set up to decide if further evidence on the issue of statistics was required, but indications by Lord Penrose suggest no further oral evidence will be taken.

Lord Penrose, who is leading the Inquiry, told the hearing in Edinburgh this morning that he believed it would not be possible to produce a definitive number regarding those infected as a result of the health scandal. He refrained from making a formal decision today but will issue a written statement in due course. It had been hoped the Inquiry would hear further evidence from witnesses on the issue of statistics which relates to the number of people infected with Hepatitis C and HIV.

Lord Penrose indicated the written decision would not include proposals to hear further oral evidence as this would slow down the publication of the written report. He did suggest that further written evidence from statistical experts may be obtained.

Thompsons Solicitors campaigned for the Inquiry and acts for a number of the victims who were infected by blood and blood products administered by the NHS in the 70s and 80s. The Inquiry was set up in 2008 by Scottish Ministers to establish how NHS patients received contaminated blood. It is thought hundreds of Scots have been exposed to infection. Patrick McGuireThompsons Partner Patrick McGuire said: “Over the course of many years countless people, including victims, campaigners and legal teams have worked tirelessly to ensure this Inquiry served its purpose. It seems that at this final but vital hurdle all hopes of achieving the answers these victims so badly need could be diminished.

“There appears to be a lack of appetite to go the extra distance to achieve the desired results and if that is the case then this will come as a devastating blow to the victims and their families.

“If Lord Penrose’s written decision bears out following what was said today, this will be an extremely disappointing outcome.”

Bill Wright is Chair of Haemophilia Scotland and one of the hundreds of people affected by the scandal. He said: “Lord Penrose and the Inquiry team carry a huge weight of responsibility to get to the bottom of the extent of the disaster accurately. Behind the numbers are real people who were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C through NHS treatment, viruses which kill.

The disparity in the experts written accounts of how many people they think were infected in some cases is gaping. Patients and bereaved families might be feeling helpless about whether they fit into the expert’s disagreement about numbers. After four years since the Inquiry was launched they will now be left feeling seriously worried as to what sort of picture is going to emerge from it and how accurate it will be.”

Lord Penrose gave no time scale as the when the written decision will be issued but it is expected to be in the next few days. A full written report to conclude the inquiry is expected within the next twelve months.


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