08 November 2017

The government has taken steps to break the deadlock afflicting a promised inquiry into the UK contaminated blood scandal.

Under new proposals, responsibility for setting up the inquiry has been moved from the Department of Health to the Cabinet Office.

Campaigners objected to the health department overseeing the inquiry and have been boycotting attempts to set up meetings to agree a terms of reference.

The inquiry is due to examine the responsibility for the use of blood contaminated with hepatitis C and HIV in the 1980s. This led to thousands of people with haemophilia and others dependent on blood products becoming infected.

A spokesman for the Haemophilia Society said: "We welcome the Government's recognition of our concerns about the impartiality challenges the Department of Health faced regarding the contaminated blood inquiry.

"We hope the decision to make the Cabinet Office the sponsor of the now statutory inquiry will be a turning point in helping the victims of this scandal finally get the justice they have long deserved.

"We now hope a new and fresh discussion will be launched to establish the chair and terms of reference, which can now include the many groups who, like us, had felt unable to work with the Department of Health when it was so clearly conflicted."

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May said: "The inquiry will be conducted under the responsibility of the Cabinet Office rather than by the Department of Health with immediate effect.

"We have been absolutely clear of our determination to establish what happened in relation to the contaminated blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s and to work with the families of those affected, and we are now moving forward with that process.

"There was a strong view that it should be done away from the Department of Health. We have listened to those views and that's why it will be conducted under the auspices of the Cabinet Office."

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