Victims of infected blood scandal to get up to £400MILLION in compensation: Inquiry into NHS’s ‘worst treatment disaster’ rules that everyone affected should get £100,000 each… 50 YEARS later
- More than 2,000 lost their lives because of contaminated blood products
- Scandal has been called the biggest treatment disaster in the NHS’ history
- Inquiry chair Sir Brian Langstaff says surviving victims deserve compensation
Every victim of the contaminated blood scandal should be paid at least £100,000 each, the chairman of an inquiry into the disaster ruled today.
The compensation should be paid ‘without delay’, Sir Brian Langstaff said.
He said he had made the report in light of the inquiry hearing evidence of ‘profound physical and mental suffering’ caused by the scandal.
The inquiry was set-up to examine how thousands of patients with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders were infected with HIV and hepatitis C in the 1970s and 80s after getting tainted donations from US prisoners, sex workers and drug addicts who were paid to give their blood.
About 2,400 people died, in what has been labelled the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.
The independent inquiry into the 50-year-old scandal was announced in 2017 and began hearing evidence in 2019.
Campaigners praised the ‘step in the right direction’ but raised concerns there are still hundreds of parents or children of victims who are not eligible for the payments.
Thousands of victims who were infected with HIV and hepatitis with contaminated blood should be paid at least £100,000 each, Sir Brian Langstaff (pictured) said today
Lauren Palmer, 33, lost both her parents to the contaminated blood scandal when she was nine
Victim Michelle Tolley described it as the ‘worst tragedy in the history of the NHS and it must never ever happen again, absolutely never’
1972: NHS starts importing large batches of Factor VIII products from United States to help clot blood of haemophiliacs.
1974: Some researchers warn that Factor VIII could be contaminated and spreading hepatitis.
Late-1970s: Patients continue to be given Factor VIII, with much of the plasma used to make the product coming from donors such as prison inmates, drug addicts and prostitutes.
1983: Governments in both the UK and the United States are told that Aids has been spread through blood products.
Mid-1980s: By now the blood products such as Factor VIII, were being heat-treated to kill viruses, but thousands of patients had already been infected.
1991: Blood products imported from US are withdrawn from use. The government awards ex-gratia payments to haemophiliac victims threatening to sue.
2007: Privately-funded inquiry into scandal set up by Lord Archer of Sandwell but it does not get offical status and relies on donations.
2008: Penrose Inquiry launched, but victims claim the seven-year investigation was a ‘whitewash’.
2017: Independent inquiry into contaminated blood scandal announced by Prime Minister Theresa May.
April, 2019 Infected Blood Inquiry starts hearing evidence.
In a letter to Paymaster General Michael Ellis accompanying the report, Sir Brian said: ‘As you will read, it was the force of Sir Robert Francis QC’s recommendation of an interim payment, as amplified by him in the course of his oral evidence to the inquiry, that caused me to reflect on whether I should exercise my powers to make such a report.
‘I believed that elementary justice required that I consider this question. No submission made to me argued that I should not make a recommendation.
‘Having considered the submissions and reflected on the evidence this inquiry has heard of profound physical and mental suffering across a wide range of backgrounds, from a diversity of places and in a variety of personal circumstances, I considered it right that I should make this report.
‘I recommend that: (1) An interim payment should be paid, without delay, to all those infected and all bereaved partners currently registered on UK infected blood support schemes, and those who register between now and the inception of any future scheme; (2) The amount should be no less than £100,000, as recommended by Sir Robert Francis QC.’
It comes after a report on the interim payments by Sir Robert, who studied options for a framework for compensation for victims of the infected blood tragedy, was published in June.
The inquiry was established to examine how thousands of patients in the UK were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.
About 30,000 Britons — many haemophiliacs — contracted HIV and/or hepatitis C in the 1970s and 1980s after being treated by the NHS with cheap, tainted US blood products
At least 2,400 died because of the blood.
Today’s announcement does not extend to parents or children of victims, meaning hundreds of families are still waiting to hear how they will be compensated after the inquiry.
The BBC reported that there are more than 4,000 surviving victims of the contaminated blood scandal, equating to a pay-out in the region of £400million.
Jason Evans, founder of victims’ campaign group Factor 8, said: ‘The announcement today is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, and we are thankful to Sir Brian.
‘It’s disappointing that hundreds of bereaved families will have to wait. We had hoped for a recommendation that the whole community could get behind and campaign for.
‘However, it must be stressed that the arbitrary exclusion of many bereaved families is a creation of the government, not of the infected blood inquiry.
‘Many parents whose children died after being infected are now elderly; I expect there will be more deaths without any recognition in this group as the Inquiry continues.
The compensation should be paid `without delay´ to those affected, Sir Brian Langstaff wrote in an interim report
Wife of tainted blood victim in payout plea for victims
Wendy Stubbs said it is already too late for the ‘love of her life’ Stephen, 63, who is rapidly deteriorating as a result of contracting hepatitis C from blood products in the 1980s
The wife of a man infected in the tainted blood scandal has called for ‘urgent’ compensation for victims after her husband spent his ‘last Christmas’ still waiting for justice.
Wendy Stubbs said it is already too late for the ‘love of her life’ Stephen, 63, who is rapidly deteriorating as a result of contracting hepatitis C from blood products in the 1980s.
The grandfather has an aggressive form of Alzheimer’s disease caused by his infection and is living out his days in a care home unable to talk, feed or dress himself, or recognise his loved ones.
Mrs Stubbs, 61, said tearfully: ‘For Stephen it is already too late, he hasn’t got a clue what is going on. Christmas is a happy time for families but he doesn’t even know who I am.
‘There were thousands infected and affected and the very few that are left now are still suffering like Stephen but there is still no justice.
‘The Government needs to do something and urgently before they’ve all been wiped out.’
‘Hopefully, the government will take this on board and act now to remove the hierarchy of bereaved families.
‘In the meantime, we urge the government to take swift action in making interim compensation payments to all who have been so badly impacted by the devastating effects of Hepatitis C and HIV.’
Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, who represents families and those affected by the scandal said the report was a ‘welcome development’ but compensation had been ‘due for decades’.
‘These immediate interim payments for some of the most vulnerable will, at last, provide some financial compensation that many of those suffering have been due for decades,’ he said.
‘Whilst coming too late for the thousands who have tragically passed away over the intervening years since they were infected, it is a welcome development for some of those still living with the dreadful repercussions of this avoidable treatment failure.
‘We look forward to the day when all victims of this scandal are properly compensated for their suffering and for those whose decisions led to the ruining of countless innocent lives being held to account.
‘We now await the Government’s response, and would like to thank the IBI chair Sir Brian Langstaff for recognising the importance of today’s recommendations.’
In a short statement at the end of Friday’s hearing, Sir Brian made clear his recommendation did not have to be accepted by the Government.
‘Please also remember I have no power to order interim payments: my sole power is to make a recommendation. It does not have to be accepted by Government, nor does it have to be accepted in full,’ he said.
He also apologised to those who would not be eligible for compensation under the scope of the recommendation, but stressed the inquiry’s work was still ongoing.
A final report into the matter is yet to be published, Sir Brian said.
‘I know that this will be disappointing for some of you who may fall into neither category and I apologise for that,’ the chairman said.
‘I ask those who are disappointed to remember that this is not the end of the inquiry’s work, and the question of compensation, and its scope is not resolved in this short report on interim payments.’
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