The Cabinet Office will lead an inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal that led to the deaths of 2,400 people, the government has announced.
A Downing Street spokesperson said on Friday a “full statutory inquiry” would be held and will come under the responsibility of the Cabinet Office after victims and families “expressed strong views” over the potential involvement of the Department of Health.
Theresa May promised a full-scale probe into the disaster back in July.
Thousands of patients – many of them haemophiliacs – died in the 1970s and 1980s after being given tainted blood infected with hepatitis and HIV. A further 2,500 people survived but still suffer from substantial health issues.
Supplies of the clotting agent Factor VIII were imported from the US, some of which turned out to be infected.
Campaigner Carol Grayson, whose husband Peter Longstaff died in 2005 after treatment for haemophilia left him with hepatitis and HIV, said:” I welcome the news that the Cabinet Office is to lead the public inquiry
“It would have been highly inappropriate for the Department of Health to investigate itself, given the many allegations regarding behaviour and safety violations over the years.
“Now it is important to move forward and appoint a suitable chairperson and panel.”
More details about the probe are expected to be announced in a written statement later today.
Former Lib Dem health minister Norman Lamb said it was good news the government had “bowed to pressure”.
“This is crucial to ensure that the inquiry is completely independent from the Department of Health, whose role in this scandal needs to be fully scrutinised,” he added.
“The imperative now is to rapidly appoint a chair, and finally deliver answers and justice for all those affected by this horrific tragedy.”