The BBC reports that Sir Brian Langstaff, a former judge and chair of the infected blood public inquiry, has said that more than 4,000 surviving victims of the contaminated blood scandal should receive provisional compensation of £100,000 each and that there was a “compelling case” to make the payments quickly.

This could include some bereaved partners of those who have died since and possibly  some children, siblings and parents.

Representatives of those affected say this recommendation is a major step forward towards an official admission of responsibility for what has been called the “worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS” when at least 2,400 people died after contracting HIV or hepatitis C through NHS treatments in the 1970s and 80s.

Currently, victims and families get an annual financial support payment but have not been compensated for loss of earnings, care costs and other lifetime losses.

The recommendation is being considered by the government. Matt Hancock has previously said that “of course” payments would be made if recommended.

A brief background is that thousands of NHS patients with haemophilia and other blood disorders became seriously ill after being given a new treatment called factor VIII or IX from the mid-1970s onwards. The medication was imported from the US where it was made from the pooled blood plasma of thousands of paid donors, including some in high-risk groups, such as prisoners. It only took a single infected donor to contaminate a whole batch of the medication.

Also particularly at risk where those giving birth or needing surgery.

One of the many victims, a Mr Richard Warwick said:

“Finally, after all this time, it’s recognition of the harm that’s been done to us and a way of compensating victims that will enable them to get on with their lives.”

There have been schemes for financial support in place, but no admission of liability and no actual compensation for physical and social injury, the stigma of the disease, the impact on family and work life, and the cost of care. The idea of the interim payment would be to fund immediate bills and care needs.  Compensation is needed NOW, not some years down the line, when it has already taken so long to get where we are.

Further recommendations on compensation for a wider group of people can be expected at the conclusion of the inquiry next year.

The cost could be in excess of a billion pounds, but as so often with clinical negligence/defective product type claims, this is no way the fault of those affected.

For more information on the schemes look at these links:

To speak to one of our Medical Negligence Team contact or call 01522 561020.

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