‘This must never happen again’ - Contaminated blood victim hopes inquiry will uncover the truth
PUBLISHED: 18:00 24 September 2018
An Ipswich grandfather who was infected with two deadly diseases during the worst health scandal in NHS history is hoping the truth will be revealed after a major inquiry got underway.
Alan Burgess, 60, who attended today’s opening of the public inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal, said he was “cautiously optimistic” the victims would get the answers they have been waiting for,
Around 5,000 people – most of them with haemophilia – were infected with HIV and hepatitis after being given contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s. Some 3,000 of those victims are thought to have died.
Mr Burgess, who was infected with HIV in 1982 and hepatitis C some time in the years that followed, said the scandal had cost him his job, his health and nearly his family.
Having spent much of the last 30 years campaigning for justice, Mr Burgess said he was “ecstatic” when the inquiry was announced.
Speaking after yesterday’s hearing, he said it had been “very emotional” but he was now hopeful about the outcome.
“This inquiry can order people to give evidence, including ministers, health ministers and other politicians and can also order documents to be released” he said. “So on that score, we will hopefully be able to find the evidence to get to the truth.
“We are also hoping that certain people will be able held accountable for their actions.
“This needs to come out so that it never happens again in the history of the NHS.”
The Government has faced growing pressure to carry out a full investigation after former health secretary Andy Burnham claimed last year that a “criminal cover-up on an industrial scale” had taken place.
Yesterday’s opening heard heartfelt testimonies from victims who told of the stigma they faced living with HIV.
Mr Burgess, who may give evidence when the inquiry reconvenes next year, said many people had opened up for the first time about their experiences.
“It’s been cathartic,” he said. “Whatever else comes of this, it’s helped a lot of people get together and share their experiences.”
Having lost friends along the way, Mr Burgess said feared he would have died before the truth came out.
The inquiry is expected to last two years. If it finds culpability, victims could seek compensation.