Chair of the Inquiry urged authorities to act quickly for those infected and affected
Sir Brian Langstaff has repeated his call for specialist psychological support to be made available for people infected and affected by the use of infected blood and blood products. The Infected Blood Inquiry Chair said the testimony of experts and intermediaries had added to the weight of evidence already provided by people infected and affected that provision of specialist psychological support remains lacking and urgently needed.
In his closing remarks reflecting on a week of hearings with expert witnesses on psychosocial impact, hepatitis, HIV and bleeding and blood disorders, Sir Brian said that this evidence underlined the call he made last year:
“We shall all take our own messages from this week of evidence, but what I personally would like to highlight is this: it must be the case that anyone who has given a life threatening diagnosis may need support and should be offered it, and so too their families may need support ...
"Every day this week we have heard the same message: that support is needed. Not just from those to whom the intermediaries gave voice. We haven't heard it just from the psychosocial experts, but we've heard it also from leading experts in hepatitis and leading experts in HIV, and today we've heard that psychological support remains at best patchy in some parts of the country."
Sir Brian informed participants that the Inquiry had now received written responses from the relevant authorities in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales on the level of support now being offered in each nation. But he made clear that more progress needs to be made, particularly in England and Scotland, and that this does not need to wait for the outcome of his Inquiry:
"Both Northern Ireland and Wales have told us that they've started to answer this call by providing services bespoke to those who have been infected by blood and blood products. If they have opened the door to treatment and support, I would hope - indeed expect - to see England and Scotland fully follow suit.
"Though I've had no detailed dissection of any figures as yet, the evidence thus far suggests that the outlay of public funds would not be great but also that expenditure on support and screening will save money in the long run because it will help improve and maintain health ...
"I hope to be able to acknowledge in the final [Inquiry] report that proper support and follow-up will by then be in place across the UK."
A video of Sir Brian’s closing statement to the week of expert hearings is available on the Inquiry’s YouTube channel here.
A transcript of Friday 28 February’s hearing (including Counsel to the Inquiry’s summary of the responses received from the relevant authorities in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales - beginning on page 153) is available on the Inquiry’s website here.
The full responses from the relevant authorities in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are also available on the Evidence section of the Inquiry’s website here.