Scottish health minister sorry for blood 'tragedy'

Fire starting Image copyright PA
Image caption Copies of the report were burned amid an angry response from victims and relatives

Health Secretary Shona Robison has described infections caused by blood transfusions as "one of the greatest healthcare-related tragedies in this country".

Her statement followed publication of the Penrose Inquiry report.

Thousands of people were infected with Hepatitis C and HIV through NHS blood products in the 1970s and 80s.

There had been an angry response to the report from some victims, who publicly burned copies.

The inquiry's single recommendation was that the Scottish government takes all reasonable steps to offer a Hepatitis C test to everyone in Scotland who had a blood transfusion before September 1991 and who has not been tested for the disease.

Ms Robison told the Scottish Parliament she understood the anger of many of those affected by the scandal.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Shona Robison said she accepted the Penrose recommendation on testing people at risk

She said: "I am very aware that, for many, the outcome of the inquiry did not meet their expectations."

The minister told MSPs she fully accepted the recommendation on carrying out further testing of patients.

She stressed that blood supplies were now safe.

"Our current blood safety record is safe," she said, adding: "The blood supply is as safe as it can be."

Ms Robison spoke of the need to improve financial support for those who needed it.

She said: "We must resolve this issue as soon as possible... and we must listen to the views of infected patients."

Voluntary bodies

The minister also promised core funding for bodies working in this area.

"Both Haemophilia Scotland and the Scottish Infected Blood Forum do vital work in supporting the affected patients and their families," she said.

"I am pleased to confirm today that the Scottish government will commit to providing core funding for both organisations for the next three years, to ensure they can continue their good work.

"I have today asked both organisations to help establish the reference group to help take forward the Penrose recommendation, the other actions I've highlighted and the consultation on the review of the financial schemes."

Labour's Jenny Marra said the inquiry laid bare the full horror of the tragedy with so many lives devastated.

She said the most common phrase used by families was "whitewash".

Ms Marra called for financial support to be in place without delay.

Conservative Jackson Carlaw asked when further action that might arise as a result of the Penrose Inquiry might actually come about.

Labour's former leader Johann Lamont said victims, including one of her constituents, just wanted to know why this had happened.

The statement can be watched on demand at BBC Scotland's Democracy Live website.

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