MP alleges 'criminal cover-up' of contaminated blood scandal

Former Health Secretary Andy Burnham alleged during a debate in Parliament this week that there was a "criminal cover-up" of the NHS contaminated blood scandal which led to patients contracting hepatitis C and HIV. 

Burnham, who was speaking in his final Parliamentary debate before stepping down as an MP, called for a “Hillsborough-style inquiry” into the scandal, saying there had been “deliberate, provable acts of cover-up”. Some of those affected by the scandal had received inappropriate treatment, had medical records falsified and had test results withheld, the MP alleged.

Nicola Blackwood, the Public Health Minister, resisted calls for an inquiry, saying that a new inquiry would add little that was not already in the public domain. Blackwood highlighted the Government’s infected blood payment scheme as a source of support for victims of the scandal.

Following the debate in Parliament on Tuesday, the Labour MP George Howarth asked Prime Minister Theresa May whether she would back an inquiry at Prime Minister’s Questions the following day, with the PM refusing to commit to holding one.

Burnham, who is stepping down as an MP in order to seek election as the Mayor of Greater Manchester, has since written an open letter to the leaders of the main UK political parties. In it, he calls the scandal “perhaps the greatest untold injustice in the history of our country” and calls for all major political parties in the UK to make a manifesto commitment to set up a Hillsborough-style inquiry into contaminated blood. Burnham says that if the newly elected Government has not set up such a process by the time the House of Commons is suspended for summer recess, he will refer the evidence he holds to the police. 

A report released by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood in January 2015 found that around 7,500 patients were infected by imported blood products. More than 2,000 UK patients have since died as a result.

A full transcript of Tuesday’s debate can be accessed here