Swinney apologises for 'unimaginable suffering' of infected blood scandal

The First Minister said lessons will be learned to ensure such a disaster never happens in Scotland again.

Scotland’s First Minister has apologised “unreservedly” for the “unimaginable suffering” inflicted upon the victims of the infected blood scandal.

John Swinney vowed that lessons from the Infected Blood Inquiry will be learned so that “no one else has to endure the heartbreak and suffering that so many families have faced”.

The inquiry identified a “catalogue of systemic, collective and individual failures” that amounted to a “calamity”.

It’s been described as the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

Swinney said it was a “disgrace” that those impacted by the scandal have been forced into decades of campaigning and vowed to work with the UK Government to ensure victims are compensated.

The first full compensation payments to victims of the infected blood scandal will be made before the end of the year, UK ministers have confirmed.STV News

The First Minister said: “More than 30,000 people across the UK were infected by contaminated blood products and transfusions between the 1970s and 1991 – with around 3,000 of those here in Scotland. 

“That is 3,000 families in Scotland who have faced decades of unnecessary heartbreak and pain.

“They have been failed by the organisations and process that should have been in place to protect and support them and I am sorry.

“Those infected and impacted by this tragedy have worked tirelessly to ensure that its impact, and their suffering, is not ignored – and to ensure that what they have endured is never repeated.”

Swinney said those infected with HIV or hepatitis as a result of NHS treatment endured “unimaginable suffering”.

He added: “I know that the Infected Blood Inquiry report published yesterday will not heal wounds nor bring back those loved ones who have been lost.

“I do, however, hope that it is a step forward in the journey towards a semblance of justice and a better future.  

Findings of the six-year inquiry were released on Monday, May 20.Getty Images

“The Scottish Government has already accepted the moral case for compensation for infected blood victims and we are committed to working with the UK Government to ensure any compensation scheme builds on the interim compensation which was paid out in 2022 and works as well as possible for victims.

“The Scottish Government will take forward the Inquiry’s recommendations for Scotland along with charities representing the infected and affected.”

The First Minister said the Scottish Government was “determined” to ensure lessons from the inquiry were learned to ensure such a disaster never happens again.

He encouraged people to still give blood and said the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service has “extremely high standards of blood safety”, adding that the service remains “essential” for thousands of Scots.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “This report is a vindication for those campaigners who have had to tirelessly fight for the truth and justice for far too long.

“It is only due to their strength and determination that we are where we are today.

“The disgusting betrayal of thousands of people across the country by those in positions of power is a stain on our nation.

“While no amount of money can compensate for the impact this has had on those victims who are still alive – or those grieving the loss of loved ones – my party is fully committed to working with governments across the UK to ensure those payments are delivered as quickly as possible.

“The report’s publication was the culmination in a decades-long fight for justice and the next step has been the announcement of the compensation scheme. Every day going forward from now must be about ensuring this can never happen again.”

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