Victims and families affected by the infected blood scandal must be paid their £100,000 compensation packets “immediately”, their lawyer has said.
The chairman of the inquiry into the tragedy said the money should be paid to more than 2,000 surviving victims “without delay” and Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, has demanded that it is paid within 14 days.
Mr Collins said he would be stepping up pressure on the Government on Monday.
He told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight programme: “When I say immediately I don’t mean within three months, I mean immediately.
“It must be within days or weeks.
“I would have said 14 days is not an unreasonable time for the wheels to be put in motion and that’s what we will be asking for on Monday.”
In a letter to Paymaster General Michael Ellis on Friday, the inquiry chairman, Sir Brian Langstaff, said he made the compensation recommendation in light of the “profound physical and mental suffering” caused by the scandal.
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 2,400 people died in what has been labelled the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.
There are 2,007 core participants in the inquiry who are infected or affected, but it is not known whether all of these people will be eligible for compensation.
Research is still ongoing to reach estimates for the total number of surviving infected blood victims.
A Government spokesperson said it would consider the former High Court judge’s report with “the utmost urgency” and “respond as soon as possible”.
Former health secretary Matt Hancock has also said the Government has a “moral duty” to pay compensation to infected blood victims and said he was “confident” it will.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Of course, the Government needs to pay compensation as soon as practicable…”
“I heard what the Cabinet Office said having been a minister, having been a Cabinet Office Minister, my reading between the lines of that is that they’re going to get on with this pretty quickly”.
He urged whoever becomes the next prime minister to pay the compensation, saying: “My view is that when a Government sets up an inquiry like this, which we were right to do, it is then a moral duty on the state, on the Government, to pay compensation.”
The DHSC has been contacted for a response on Mr Collins’ comment.