Infected blood victims should get £100k each compensation 'without delay', inquiry says

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More than 4,000 surviving victims of the contaminated blood scandal should each receive no less than £100,000 "without delay", a judge has said.

Sir Brian Langstaff, chair of the infected blood inquiry, said his recommendation was made in light of the "profound physical and mental suffering" caused by the scandal.

"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," he said.

The inquiry was set up to look into how thousands of NHS patients were infected with HIV or hepatitis C by contaminated blood products imported from the US in the 1970s and 1980s.

Almost 3,000 people died in what was described as the worst treatment disaster in the history of the health service.

The UK had been reliant on supplies imported from the US, where it was manufactured with blood collected from prisoners, sex workers, drug addicts and other high-risk groups who were paid to give blood.

Sir Brian made it clear his recommendations do not have to be accepted by the government.

But when he was health secretary in 2021, Matt Hancock said the government would pay compensation if the inquiry recommends it. He told the inquiry the government had a "moral responsibility" to address the issues associated with the scandal.

The government has now said it would consider the former High Court judge's report with "the utmost urgency" and "respond as soon as possible".

"The government is grateful to Sir Brian Langstaff for his interim report regarding interim compensation for victims of infected blood," a spokesperson said.

"We recognise how important this will be for people infected and affected across the UK."

'Late but welcome'

Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, which is representing more than 400 of the victims and their families, said the payments "will, at last, provide some financial compensation that many of those suffering have been due for decades".

"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," he said.

"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."

Kate Burt, chief executive of The Haemophilia Society, said the recommendations "leave no room for doubt".

"Many of those infected or bereaved are ill and dying and need compensation now," she said.

"The government has ignored the urgent and compelling case for interim compensation payments for too long," she added.

Sir Brian apologised to victims that would not be eligible for the payments.

"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," he said.

He said delivering the payments to people on the infected blood support schemes was the most practical way of providing compensation quickly.

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