The Inquiry is now ‘in discovery’ with members of its team gathering evidence and taking statements. The formal hearings will resume again in 30th April 2019.
The Inquiry plans to sit for three weeks out of four and for up to four days per week. They propose, to start by hearing evidence from a range of infected and affected people. They want to hear, first-hand, the accounts and experiences across the UK. This evidence will be heard in London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and probably Leeds. It is anticipated that this will happen over the three months from May until July next year.
The next part of the Inquiry’s hearings will probably begin in October next year and, most likely hear evidence about the key issues set out in the first part of its terms of reference – what happened and why. The Inquiry will look at what was known, or ought to have been known, about the risks of infection, by government, pharmaceutical companies, licensing authorities, NHS bodies, the medical profession and others.
They will examine how it was that people with haemophilia were given infected blood products and people requiring transfusion were given infected blood. They will look at the adequacy of the systems in place, the questions of self-sufficiency in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The third part of the hearings at this stage are planned to look at treatment, care and support, including financial support and the many concerns that have been expressed about the trusts and schemes, the differences in financial assistance and why these differences exist.
The Inquiry will then turn its attention to the questions relating to consent, communication and information sharing, those key ethical issues that are still highly relevant to modern day medical practice.
Following this the Inquiry will look at the response of 25 government and other bodies and to examine the issues of cover up and lack of candour.
The penultimate part of the Inquiry’s hearings will be to consider recommendations for the future. Finally, the last evidence to be heard will be further accounts from those infected and affected.
These are provisional plans and may change. You can keep up to date with the Inquiry’s planning on their web site at www.infectedbloodinquiry.org.uk.