You may see stories in the news this week related to the Public Inquiry announced by the Government into how infected blood was given to patients in the past, as the opening sessions of the Inquiry commence this week. The Inquiry is primarily concerned with infected blood and blood products used by the NHS during the 1970s and 80s.
Although NHSBT was only established in 2005, our predecessor bodies did exist during this time. We have asked to be core participants in the Inquiry to ensure that we are completely transparent. We will work closely with the Inquiry team to ensure they have access to all the information they need to ensure that the Inquiry can provide truth and closure to those who have been so tragically affected by this issue. Our sympathies are with all those who have been infected and their loved ones.
In particular, we wish to reassure the Inquiry and the wider public that modern safety standards are rigorous, and our blood supply is now one of the safest in the world.
Safety is at the forefront of everything we do. We follow the guidelines and testing that are in place to protect both donors and patients and are subject to regular inspections by independent regulators. Today, every donor completes an extensive donor health check questionnaire before each donation. This is designed to detect donors who have a recognisable risk of infection who can then be excluded or subject to further testing.
Those considered at risk are asked to defer donation until it is safe for them to do so. In addition, all donations are routinely tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis E, human immunodeficiency virus, syphilis and for first time donors, human T-lymphotropic virus, before they are released into the supply chain. If any blood donation tests positive for infection it is not released into the blood supply chain and therefore cannot be issued to a patient. The donor is given support and advice.