7 April 2020

Medical Ethics expert report published


Leading experts provide insight into best practice in their field

We have today (Tuesday 7th April) published the report of the Inquiry’s Expert Group on Medical Ethics.

The 130-page report discusses the ethical principles that should govern and inform clinical decision-making. It was commissioned primarily to inform the Inquiry’s questioning of clinicians in future hearings.

The report is based on letters of instruction given to the Group by the Inquiry which had input from core participants. Many of the questions and responses relate to general medical ethics and are not necessarily specific to issues of infected blood and blood products, hepatitis, HIV or blood and bleeding disorders. 

The Expert Group has chosen to structure its report in six sections to cover all the questions in the letters of instructions.

The six sections are:

1. General and introductory questions 

2. Questions relating to the treatment of patients

3. Questions on testing for infection

4. Questions on informing people of infections

5. Questions on the ethics of research

6. Other questions put by the Inquiry not captured above

The Inquiry Chair, Sir Brian Langstaff, appointed experts across a range of specialisms last year, as leaders in their various fields, to provide independent expertise to the Inquiry in a way that is clear and transparent. The experts were asked to explain in their reports what is now known and considered as best practice and how that has come about, and not to give an opinion on what a clinician at a previous time either knew or did, or ought to have known and done. It is for the Inquiry Chair to determine what happened and why with infected blood and blood products, and the expert reports help to inform the Inquiry’s work. 

Participants are invited to consider the report in their own time ahead of the Inquiry’s hearings with clinicians (currently set to resume in September 2020) and to provide any feedback they may have to their legal representatives or, if unrepresented, to the Inquiry.

The report can be read here.

More details about the Inquiry’s Expert Groups, including their membership, the letters of instruction and previous reports published by other groups, can be found here.