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‘We must make sure this never happens again’ - probe will look at ‘cover up’ of NHS’ worst scandal

PUBLISHED: 10:16 03 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:55 03 July 2018

Michelle Tolley had blood transfusions twice when she was pregnant in the 1980s.  Photo: Simon Finlay

Michelle Tolley had blood transfusions twice when she was pregnant in the 1980s. Photo: Simon Finlay

A long-awaited inquiry into one of the worst NHS scandals has started, with hopes high it will uncover the truth into how thousands of patients were given contaminated blood.

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Thousands of people were infected with HIV and hepatitis C after blood transfusions and other treatments.

Michelle Tolley from Sparham was infected with hepatitis C following a blood transfusion while giving birth in 1987.

The 53-year old, who runs support group Contaminated Whole Blood UK, said she had “every faith” that the inquiry would “leave no stone unturned in the search for truth and justice”.

“For all of those who lost their lives, were infected, or affected by the worst tragedy in the history of the NHS, we must make sure this never happens again,” she said.

The inquiry’s terms of reference, published on Monday, state it will consider “whether there have been attempts to conceal details of what happened” through the destruction of documents or withholding of information.

It will also consider if those attempts were deliberate and if “there has been a lack of openness or candour” in the response of the Government, NHS bodies and other officials to those affected.

Sir Brian Langstaff, chairman of the inquiry, vowed he would “put the people who have been infected and affected” at its heart.

“This may have happened principally in the 1970s and 1980s, but the consequences persist today with people continuing to feel the mental, physical, social, work-related and financial effects,” he said.

Jason Evans, whose father Jonathan died after being infected with HIV, said the terms of reference “encompass all the main issues that I would have and I think the wider community has”.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced last year an inquiry would be held into the events of the 1970s and 1980s, when thousands of haemophiliacs and other patients in the UK were given infected blood products, leaving at least 2,400 people dead.

The inquiry, which is expected to take at least two-and-a-half years, will begin gathering evidence immediately.

The first preliminary hearings are due to be held between September 24 and 26.

•Details on how to take part can be found at www.infectedbloodinquiry.org.uk

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