‘Infected blood victim compensation fulfils vow I made 10 years ago’ – Hunt

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said a compensation package – reported to be at least £10 billion – for victims of the infected blood scandal will fulfil a promise he made to a constituent who died after contracting hepatitis C.

Tens of thousands of people were infected with contaminated blood or blood products between the 1970s and early 1990s.

The scandal – dubbed the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS – has been the subject of one of the biggest ever public inquiries in the UK.

Discussing a compensation package for victims in an interview in The Sunday Times, Mr Hunt told of how he promised to “sort” a fair and full settlement during a meeting with campaigner Mike Dorricott in 2014.

Infected Blood inquiry
The scandal – dubbed the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS – has been the subject of the biggest ever public inquiry in the UK (Aaron Chown/PA)

Mr Dorricott was 46 at the time, and had learned just weeks before meeting Mr Hunt that he had terminal liver cancer – a disease linked to the hepatitis C he contracted as a teenager from contaminated Factor 8 blood products.

After telling his family the news that he only had months to live, he visited the then health secretary, Mr Hunt, in Whitehall.

He told the future Chancellor he was angry that infected patients and their families had not received a full and fair settlement.

Towards the end of the meeting, Mr Hunt shook his hand and said: “Don’t worry about this, we’ll sort it.”

Just a few months later, Mr Dorricott died, aged just 47.

Mr Hunt told The Sunday Times that a new compensation package, which the newspaper reported would be at least £10 billion, for those affected by the scandal will be “thanks to Mike more than anyone else”.

He added: “And it’s one of the saddest things that he’s not around to see it.”

The Chancellor told the paper that Mr Dorricott was “so gentle, so decent”.

“I imagine after that meeting that Mike thought that he’d been fobbed off by yet another politician giving him the runaround,” he said, adding: “But what Mike didn’t know was that he really had made a huge impression on me.”

Mr Hunt said the money will be funded through Government borrowing, and that the package could be unveiled as soon as Monday – when the final report of the inquiry is due to be published.

He said the Government would look “very sympathetically” on any request from the victims or families for a national memorial.

“What we want to do after Monday is very close engagement with all the families who’ve been through such hell and understand from them what the next steps need to be,” he said.

Mr Dorricott’s widow, Ann, 57, told the paper that the announcement “brings me solace”.

“It brings me solace to know that even in death, Mike continues to make a difference,” she said.

“He was a pillar of strength, fighting for justice until his last breath and his absence is deeply felt every day.

“I know that Mike always held Jeremy Hunt in high regard, and even though it has taken 10 years, he would be pleased that justice is finally being delivered to the victims.”