Hull MP responds to Penrose Report on the NHS contaminated blood scandal

As Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood, Hull North MP Diana Johnson made the speech below to the House of Commons in response to the Penrose Inquiry report's publication.

Diana Johnson: Thank you for granting the urgent question, Mr Speaker. I thank the Minister for her response.

As we know, the contaminated blood scandal was the biggest disaster in the history of the NHS. Today we should again remember all those who contracted HIV and hepatitis C, and their families. For them, this is not an historical issue, but an ongoing tragedy which continues to have a devastating impact on their lives.

I am pleased that the report of the Penrose inquiry was published yesterday, after six years. It runs to five volumes and 1,800 pages, and it appears to document accurately the tragedy, how it came about, and the decisions that were made at the time. However, I share the surprise and disappointment of those affected that the report makes only one recommendation. I know that, for that reason, yesterday was a very difficult day for many people.

The Prime Minister’s apology on behalf of the United Kingdom Government represents a significant moment in the long struggle for recognition of the scale of the tragedy, and it is very welcome, but what we need is a proper system to support and compensate all those who are affected. The report that was published a few weeks ago by the all-party parliamentary group on haemophilia and contaminated blood shows that the current system is simply not meeting the needs of those whom it is meant to help, and is not fit for purpose. I should like to hear a reassurance from those on both Front Benches that, whichever party forms the next Government, swift action will be taken to provide a permanent support and compensation settlement. I should also like to be reassured that it will be specifically stipulated that the £25 million which was announced yesterday should go directly to the beneficiaries, rather than the trusts and funds deciding what to do with it.

This is not the end of the matter. As the Minister knows, a large number of Members on both sides of the House will return to it after 7 May, and will hold whoever is in power to account when it comes to sorting out this tragedy.