Northern Ireland

Belfast Health Trust apologises to people affected during contaminated blood scandal

Infected blood donations were used in the 1970s and 1980s to treat NHS patients
Infected blood donations were used in the 1970s and 1980s to treat NHS patients

THE Belfast Health Trust has apologised to people affected during the contaminated blood scandal.

In a statement to the UK-wide public inquiry today, the trust said it was sorry for the "harm, hurt and distress" caused.

During closing statements at the Infected Blood Inquiry, Philip Aldworth KC on behalf of the trust, said: "The infected and affected community in Northern Ireland is entitled to an apology for the part played by it and by its legacy organisations. Belfast Health and Social Care Trust says to each and every one of that community we are sorry. Some may feel that an apology is long overdue, but it is no less sincere because of the passage of time."

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The trust also said the inquiry had "shone a light on aspects of patient care and patient experience that make uncomfortable reading and difficult listening for any healthcare provider".

"The trust recognises the harm, hurt and the distress that the contaminated blood trajectory has caused to the infected and affected community," it said.

"It is a matter of deep regret that any of this should ever have happened."

Up to 30,000 people were given contaminated blood in the 1970s and 1980s, in what is regarded as the biggest treatment disaster in NHS history.

Mark Robinson KC, representing the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service, also apologised "unreservedly" at the inquiry.

He said NIBTS "acknowledges the courage, the fortitude, the dignity and decorum of the infected and affected, not only during the course of this inquiry, but also in the many many years waiting for the inquiry".

The UK government previously said 4,000 victims, around 100 in Northern Ireland, would receive interim payments of £100,000.