Infected Blood Inquiry Terms of Reference published

The Terms of Reference for the Infected Blood Inquiry were published on Monday 2nd July, with the UK Government and devolved institutions accepting the terms recommended by the Inquiry Chair, Sir Brian Langstaff, without amendment.

The Terms of Reference set out the areas the inquiry will examine, including: what happened and why; the impact; the response of Government and others; consent; communication and information-sharing; treatment, care and support; whether there was a cover-up or the authorities lacked candour; and responsibilities and recommendations. The full Terms of Reference can be read here.

Sir Brian’s recommendation is for the inquiry to be assisted by groups of experts, rather than panel members. The groups of experts would cover all relevant fields, including ethical, clinical, psychosocial, statistical and public administration. The reports of the groups would be fully open, accessible and transparent and victims of infected blood will be able to propose experts and put forward questions to the expert groups to ensure sufficient transparency and scrutiny. Sir Brian intends to consult survivors and the groups representing them to assess reaction to this proposal and whether there remains any significant wish for him to be joined by a decision-making panel.

Preliminary hearings will take place in September at Church House, London, where core participants will be able to set out their priorities for the inquiry. Sir Brian has also committed to holding regular meetings across the UK with those affected. The inquiry is expected at this stage to take between two and four years.

The inquiry team are inviting those affected by the scandal to complete a short form by 20th July outlining how they would like to provide evidence. This is to determine how many people are interested in providing a written statement, giving evidence at a public hearing or providing their story in some other way. The form is not asking individuals to provide a written statement at this point.

Rachel Halford, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, said: “We welcome the publication of the Terms of Reference for the Infected Blood Inquiry and Sir Brian Langstaff’s commitment to ensuring those affected are at the centre of the inquiry. The infected blood scandal was an appalling injustice and it is essential that the inquiry balances the need to provide thorough answers to victims’ questions with completing its work as quickly as possible. The Hepatitis C Trust will continue to engage with the inquiry on behalf of those who contracted hepatitis C as a result of infected blood and our helpline is available as a source of support for those affected.”

If you have any concerns around hepatitis C and contaminated blood, The Hepatitis C Trust’s 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 020 7089 6221. Alternatively, you can email helpline@hepctrust.org.uk.