Kent infected blood scandal victim says he contemplated suicide after life 'fell apart'

Stuart Mclean has been asked to attend a Government meeting urgently to discuss the compensation tariffs
-Credit: (Image: Stuart Maclean)

A Kent victim of the infected blood scandal whose life was "devastated" after he was infected with Hepatitis C as a child, has been called by the Government to an urgent meeting about compensation. Stuart Maclean, 54, who lives in Seal in Sevenoaks, will attend the briefing along with 35 other campaign groups.

Mr Maclean, who was infected as a child at Maidstone Hospital, told KentLive he was only told at around 1.30pm on Wednesday (May 22) about the meeting on Thursday afternoon (May 23) which will be "reflection" and discussion on the just unveiled Government compensation scheme.

As the Mirror Online reports, a £10billion scheme has been announced. The Paymaster General John Glen said interim payments of £210,000 would be made this year while the final compensation programme was set up.

More than 30,000 people were infected with deadly viruses between the 1970s and early 1990s as they received blood transfusions or blood products while receiving NHS care. The victims and their families have campaigned for decades for proper compensation.

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Mr Maclean, who lives with his wife and stepchildren in Bentleys Meadow, said many in the infected blood victim community have had their suffering compounded because the Government did not make it clear enough that the compensation figures were 'illustrative', said Mr Maclean.

At the meeting, he said he planned to drive home the need for clarity with the compensation tariffs, as many victims had believed they were in line for higher payouts. Mr Maclean discovered in 2015 that he had been infected at eight years old when he had 12 transfusions of three types of blood product, including Factor VIII, and has been a "staunch campaigner" ever since.

Talking of the compensation news, he said: "We thought everything was good until they published those figures last night and sent all those people (victims) into overload. Some people already have mental health issues and they went into overdrive. A lot of people have misconstrued it."

"People have been crying. The Government should have said at the beginning of this table, this is for illustrative purposes only. This has made it a hundred times worse for people. It's an illustration. What groups are going to get what compensation has all got to be discussed."

"I will also say there are different routes to infection and they need to be in their own categories and obviously me being misdiagnosed is another layer of harm," he said.

Mr Maclean had been taken to Maidstone Hospital with a swollen knee. He said a female doctor "gave me three types of blood products, cryoprecipitate; fresh frozen plasma; and Factor VIII. She was only meant to give one!".

'I thought Hep C was to do with drug addicts'

He found out the earth-shattering news he'd been infected all those years ago at a routine appointment during which blood was taken. "They said you were positive for Hep C. I thought Hep C was to do with drug addicts. I didn't understand it. After that my life fell apart." he said. He added that at that time he contemplated suicide.

In 2013 Mr Maclean lost the career he loved, a project manager at Westminster City Council looking after road works. His health has been wrecked, he feels "totally shattered", has memory loss, anxiety and severe depression. He was even robbed of his chance to have children of his own.

When Mr Maclean got hold of his medical notes, he saw in disbelief he had been tested for HIV and Hepatitis B without his knowledge. "They didn't bother testing me for Hep C, as if you were given Factor VIII before 1991, they knew from that you would have it. Everywhere in my records, note after note, it says 'that he's yellow, jaundiced'."

He also saw in his notes, from when he was given the three blood products, the doctor treating him had asked two other doctors if Mr Maclean, then a boy, had a bleeding problem. "She ended up giving me Hep C!" he said.

Hep C is a virus which can infect the liver. If left untreated, it can sometimes cause serious and potentially life-threatening damage to the liver over many years, according to the NHS. Jaundice, the yellowing of the eyes and skin, is a symptom of Hep C.

Mr Glen said the first victims would receive their final payments by the end of this year. He said payouts would be made to the relatives of those who died.

Partners, parents, siblings, children, friends and family who acted as carers will be eligible for compensation, MPs in the Commons heard on Tuesday (May 21). Those already registered with infected blood support schemes will automatically be eligible, Mr Glen said.

The Mirror said: "Compensation will reflect the physical and mental injuries suffered by victims, Mr Glen said, as well as the stigma they endured. He added that the impact of caring for those affected, the impact on family lives and the financial loss they suffered will also be factors in determining the amounts paid."

'We are deeply confused'

Factor 8 is the UK's leading infected blood scandal campaign organisation. Responding to Mr Glen's statement to the House of Commons yesterday on Infected Blood Compensation, Factor 8's director Jason Evans said: "We welcome the news today that Sir Robert Francis KC has been appointed as the interim chair of the Infected Blood Compensation Scheme and that living infected victims will receive further interim payments of £210k."

"However, we are deeply confused as to why there has been total silence on when and how interim payments will be made to the estates of those who have died. Most bereaved families have yet to receive any compensation and have received no timescale today on interim payments."

"On April 17 the government announced interim payments of £100k would be made to the estates of those who had died, and those payments would be made through @NHSBSA. Yet, the existing support scheme is not in a position to accept applications for those payments; there was no confirmation today of when that will happen and no promise of legal help in making those applications."

"The government has confirmed that for those who die between now and when the further £210k interim payment is paid to those infected still living, the payment will be made to their estates. This is welcome."

"Taken together, the government's announcement today creates fresh disparity. Some estates may have received £310k in total interim payments by the summer, while most may have received nothing."

"The community requires urgent clarification on these matters. Today's announcement will be a gut-punch to most bereaved families, who have still received no compensation at all."

"We will need to carefully consider the compensation tariffs before commenting on the final compensation payments.""

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