A POLICE probe into the contaminated blood scandal could be held after a former shadow health minister said he had found evidence of a cover up.
Now Labour MP Andy Burnham says he has seen evidence that medical records were altered to hide the problem – raising the prospect of a criminal investigation.
Mr Burnham said that just as amended police statements had reopened the Hillsborough inquiry into the death of 96 football fans in 1989, the evidence of amended medical records “must reopen the contaminated blood scandal”.
More than 2,000 people have since died. Campaigners have long suspected a cover-up, citing the Government’s “slow” reaction to concerns over tainted blood which began in the early 1980s.
Calls to ban dangerous imported products were made as early as May 1983, with the fi rst British haemophiliac reported to have Aids that August – yet patients were still being infected with HIV from blood products two years later.
Even when safer heattreated products were available, doctors were left to decide whether to use them – but many used old supplies first.
But until now there has been little prospect of a criminal investigation. Speaking at the House of Commons while introducing a new law forcing public offi cials to be truthful at inquiries and ensuring legal aid for bereaved families, Mr Burnham said: “The treatment of the victims of contaminated blood is arguably the gravest injustice of all.
“I have seen evidence that people’s medical records were altered without their consent and false entries included. “That is potentially a criminal matter.”
Mr Burnham said he hoped to present a “dossier of evidence” to Parliament soon. “Just as amended police statements reopened Hillsborough, so I believe evidence of amended medical records must reopen the contaminated blood scandal,” he added.
Campaigners from pressure group TaintedBlood welcomed Mr Burnham’s intervention and spoke of the “frustrating inability” to bring to task the people who “know the truth”.
“We have evidence of judgemental comments placed on offi cial record, such as people’s illness being put down to other factors such as lifestyle.
“Patients were not informed of their life-changing diagnosis, even though it was recorded in their notes.
“We know haemophiliacs were frequently tested for HIV and hepatitis C without individual consent, and due to tampering and the fi lleting of medical notes, were often not informed of the results until many years later.”
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“In 2009, the Lord Archer inquiry made clear that it had discovered no evidence of the malicious destruction of relevant records.
“Since 2015 the Government has more than doubled our annual spend on payments to those with infected blood, and we will continue to work with those affected to make sure the right support is in place.”