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Blood scandal victims urged to come forward before July deadline

Victims or families of those affected by a historic infected blood scandal, dubbed ‘the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS’, are being urged to come forward before a July 20 deadline to have their voices heard in a Public Inquiry.

Following last week’s announcement of the independent public inquiry, Welsh law firm Watkins & Gunn Solicitors are one of four firms across the UK who have been designated by the Inquiry, and is calling on victims and their families to put forward their stories before it is too late.

Called the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS, the tainted blood scandal saw at least 5,000 people across the UK infected with HIV and Hepatitis C from contaminated blood products introduced through transfusions and other treatments during the late 1970s-1980s.

At least 2,400 people have died in the UK and about 70 of those who died were Welsh, with more than 200 still living with the diseases in Wales.

With the first hearing due in September 2018, victims are now being encouraged to come forward to give evidence.

To ensure having their voices heard, victims now have until the deadline of the 20 July to express interest in becoming either a witness or a core participant in the inquiry.

As a witness, victims will be able to provide written statements detailing their experience and may also be asked to provide oral evidence, if they wish.

As one of only four UK law firms designated by inquiry, Watkins and Gunn is the only firm in Wales able to represent victims of the historic scandal. Victims and their families, acting through Watkins & Gunn, will be provided with legal guidance and support throughout the entire process, with costs covered by the inquiry.

After leading the legal fight for justice for the past three years, solicitor Michael Imperato of Watkins & Gunn said: “After a scandal which saw so many families devastated by the loss of loved ones, an official investigation is finally underway to provide answers to those whose lives were torn apart.

“It is vital that victims and their families come forward and tell their stories to the Inquiry. We would urge people to put their evidence before the Public Inquiry and to feel free contact us to provide assistance with no cost.

“We have also set up a website for those interested in registering, www.infectedbloodinquiry.org, which is full of essential information and support.

“Victims and their families now have an opportunity to get to the truth by having their voices heard, and to see justice finally done after all these years.”

For more information and advice, victims and their families can visit www.infectedbloodinquiry.org or get in touch with Watkins & Gunn on 0300 1240 400.