21 May 2024

Infected Blood Inquiry information

 Infected Blood Inquiry information

The final report of the Infected Blood Inquiry was published on Monday 20 May 2024. Led by Sir Brian Langstaff KC, this independent public statutory inquiry was established to examine the circumstances in which people, many of whom were children at the time, were treated by national health services in the United Kingdom were given infected blood and infected blood products, between the 1970s to early 1990s..

The Inquiry has examined why people were given infected blood and/or infected blood products; the impact on their families; how the authorities (including government) responded; the nature of any support provided following infection; questions of consent; and whether there was a cover-up. The full scope and terms of reference for the inquiry can be found here.

Firstly, we want to apologise to those patients who received infected blood or blood products at our hospitals between 1970 and the early 1990s. This had devastating consequences for those patients and their loved ones, and we are so very sorry that we did not provide the level of care they rightly expected from us.

Due to the length of time which has now passed it is likely that many patients already know if they were impacted by the infected blood products but if anyone is concerned the information on this page gives guidance on how we can provide help and support.

We would like to stress that today, blood transfusions in the UK are extremely safe due to thorough testing for infections and the use of volunteer blood donors who undergo a rigorous screening process.

We fully accept the findings of this inquiry and will ensure that we learn from the actions that allowed this to happen and most importantly the experiences of our patients and their families.

Timeline of historical events:

• 1970 to 1991: Imported blood infected with HIV and Hepatitis C was given to patients in the form of transfusions, plasma and other blood products.

• 1985: All blood donations have been tested for HIV since October 1985.

• 1991: All blood donations have been tested for Hepatitis C since 1 September 1991.

• Since testing has been introduced, the risk of acquiring an infection from a blood transfusion is very low. There have been no reported and confirmed cases of hepatitis C, from any UK blood component, since a 1997 transfusion and for HIV from a transfusion in 2002.

• Since 1991, all blood donated in the UK is screened and distributed by NHS Blood and Transplant following rigorous safety standards and testing to protect both donors and patients.

• Since testing has been introduced, the risk of getting an infection from a blood transfusion or blood products is very low.

• All blood donors are screened at every donation and every donation is tested before it is sent to hospitals. Blood services and blood safety has been transformed, not only in terms of technological advances in testing but also in the way donors are recruited and checked they are safe to donate.

• Given the time that has elapsed since the last use of infected blood products, most of those who were directly affected have been identified and started appropriate treatment. However, there may be a small number of patients where this is not the case, and particularly where they are living with asymptomatic hepatitis C.

• If you are concerned about a possible hepatitis C infection, you can book a home NHS test online. The tests are free and confidential. To receive a self-testing kit which can be quickly dispatched to your home visit hepctest.nhs.uk.

• Hepatitis B is also linked to infected blood, this usually clears up on its own without treatment, but could develop into chronic hepatitis B. Patients can find out more information here - hepatitis B information

• HIV testing is also provided to anyone free of charge on the NHS. Home testing and home sampling kits are also available. You can find out more about HIV testing and the HIV testing services search tool on the NHS website.

• Patients who want more details about the safety of blood from donations in England can find more information here: https://www.blood.co.uk/the-donation-process/further-information/your-safety/

• We know that people may be concerned about their own health following recent media coverage, so the NHS has set up an online resource for patients and the public to find help and support - https://nhs.uk/infected-blood-support.

If you are or have been a patient at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals who has had a blood transfusion during the period 1970 to 1991 and have concerns or questions about your care please do not hesitate to contact our dedicated email address on sth.infectedbloodinquiry@nhs.net or telephone 0114 27 11663. You will be asked to leave our contact details and a member of the appropriate team will come back to you within 24 hours.

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