Northern Ireland news

NHS Infected Blood inquiry hearings to begin in Belfast tomorrow

Simon Hamilton (left) with his son Ethan and his twin Nigel. The men are to give evidence at the public inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal
Marie Louise McConville

A public inquiry into a NHS infected blood scandal will begin in Belfast tomorrow.

Victims and families of those affected by the historic scandal will give evidence on the first day of witness hearings in the city, which will take place at the Titanic International Conference Centre at the Waterfront Hall.

The Infected Blood Inquiry has already been holding hearings in London with more planned around the UK until mid-October.

The hearings will take place in Belfast from Tuesday until Saturday, May 25.

The infected blood scandal saw thousands of people across the UK infected with HIV and Hepatitis C from contaminated blood products introduced through transfusions, blood products and other treatments administered by the NHS during the late 1970s and 1980s.

More than one thousand people have died in the UK, a significant percentage being from Wales and Northern Ireland.

Hundreds are still living with the debilitating illnesses and health issues associated with being infected.

Among those affected are Co Antrim twins, Nigel and Simon Hamilton.

The siblings were both left seriously ill after receiving blood in separate incidents that required decades of treatment for Hepatitis C, liver cirrhosis and cancer.

The independent public inquiry aims to uncover the reasons why men, women and children in the UK were given infected blood and/or infected blood products; the impact on their families; how the authorities (including government) responded; the nature of any support provided following infection; questions of consent; and whether there was a cover-up.

Following the preliminary hearings of the Inquiry in September 2018, victims and their families have been coming forward to provide witness statements.

Each day of the witness hearings, the Inquiry will hear from victims and families both infected and affected.

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