UK government urged to immediately compensate victims of infected blood | Tainted Blood Scandal
Pressure is mounting for the government to immediately compensate victims of the tainted blood scandal.
The chairman of the tainted blood inquiry on Friday called for victims and their families to be compensated “without delay” after recommending the level of interim compensation. Sir Brian Langstaff said those infected and bereaved partners should receive ‘payments of at least £100,000’.
Des Collins, a senior partner at Collins Solicitors, which represents some of the victims, said he would increase pressure on the government on Monday, after Boris Johnson was asked to pay the interim amounts to those affected immediately and before more of them die. The recommendation for immediate payments was backed by former health secretaries Jeremy Hunt, Matt Hancock and Andy Burnham.
At least 2,400 people died of contracting HIV or hepatitis C after receiving infected blood from the NHS in the 1970s and 1980s, and up to 30,000 people became seriously ill. The scandal has been called the worst treatment disaster in NHS history.
An open letter to the Prime Minister this month signed by organizations including the Hemophilia Society and the Terrence Higgins Trust said 419 people had died between July 2017, when the inquest was announced, and February of this year. He said it had been reported that an infected person died every four days.
Ros Cooper, who was infected with hepatitis C after receiving infected blood products as a child, described the news of the interim recommendation as an “extraordinary development”. Cooper told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think that’s the evidence of everything that’s been uncovered that would support this claim.
Cooper, who started receiving blood clotting factor products when she was less than six months old, said being infected with hepatitis C left her unable to work. “It’s been the defining factor in my life ever since I found out as a teenager that I had it,” Cooper said. She said she suffered from mental health issues and fatigue: “The mental side effects of learning you’re going to die in your twenties have been enormous.”
She added that this had been “compounded” by the fact that it had “to be fought since then, to try to obtain a certain level of recognition of justice from successive governments”.
Hunt echoed Collins, calling for payments to all bereaved victims and partners to be made “immediately”. Appearing on the Today programme, he called on ministers to act before more victims die.
“I would just like to urge ministers to recognize that time is running out and that waiting, you know, a few months until, for example, the leadership campaign is resolved and the new Prime Minister has made the decision will mean that a few more months people are probably dead,” he said.
“We should do it right away. We have waited too long. Successive governments, of which I have been a part, have not acted as quickly as they should have and we must recognize this as a terrible, terrible injustice.
Hancock said the government had a “moral duty” to compensate victims of the scandal and said he was “confident”. Burnham, a former health secretary and now mayor of Greater Manchester, said there could be manslaughter charges.
The Cabinet Office said on Saturday it would act on the compensation recommendations ‘with the utmost urgency’ and a copy of the inquiry report would be tabled with MPs ‘once Parliament reconvenes’ – in September.
A spokesman said: ‘The Government is grateful to Sir Brian Langstaff for his interim report regarding interim compensation for infected blood victims.
“We recognize how important this will be for those infected and affected across the UK, and can confirm that the Government will consider Sir Brian’s report and Sir Robert Francis QC’s recommendations with the utmost urgency, and respond as soon as possible. A copy of the report will be tabled in the chamber once parliament reconvenes.