Hepatitis C Trust update on contaminated blood inquiry process

The Hepatitis C Trust, along with a number of other charities and campaigning organisations, received an invitation to attend a meeting this morning with the Department of Health to discuss the recently announced inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal, but did not attend.

We share concerns raised by others about the Department of Health's role as the sponsoring department of the inquiry. While we have no doubt that the Government and individual ministers are genuinely committed to a comprehensive inquiry, we do not believe that it is appropriate for the Department of Health to be leading the formation of the inquiry, given that it is implicated in many of the allegations due to be examined. We therefore believe that the Government should hand responsibility for the inquiry to the Cabinet Office or the Ministry of Justice, to ensure victims and their families are reassured as to the independence of the process.

We were also concerned by the exclusion of some key campaigning organisations and the lack of notice given for the meeting. With invitations to the meeting only distributed on Tuesday, invitees were given just two days’ notice. This was particularly problematic for organisations based outside of London and we believe it is crucial that stakeholders from across the country are represented to ensure the inquiry is as comprehensive as possible. It also limited the time given to charities and campaigning organisations to fully prepare their contributions and input.

We remain committed to engaging with the Government on the terms of the inquiry and hope the concerns that have been raised by victims, charities and campaigning organisations will be addressed. As we highlighted in our statement following the announcement of the inquiry, it is vital that the victims and their families are at the centre of the process and we will continue to push for this to be case.

If you have any concerns around hepatitis C and contaminated blood, our confidential helpline is open Monday-Friday from 10.30am-4.30pm and is staffed solely by people who have themselves been affected by hepatitis C. You can call the helpline on 0845 223 4424 or 020 7089 6221. Alternatively, you can email helpline@hepctrust.org.uk.