'Significant announcements' to be made about infected blood scandal compensation

‘Significant’ announcements on infected blood compensation could be made in the next few weeks, a charity has learned (Victoria Jones/PA)
‘Significant’ announcements on infected blood compensation could be made in the next few weeks, a charity has learned -Credit:Victoria Jones/PA

Ministers are gearing up to make "significant announcements" about compensation for people affected by the infected blood scandal in the next few weeks, officials have said. Cabinet Office Minister John Glen told representatives from the Haemophilia Society that the funding pot to compensate people affected by the scandal could be more than £10billion.

Mr Glen has been meeting with people affected by the scandal - which has been dubbed the worst treatment disaster in NHS history. Tens of thousands of people were infected with contaminated blood through infected blood products or blood transfusions between the 1970s and early 1990s.

An estimated 3,000 people have died as a result, while those who survived have lived with life-long health implications. Ministers have been accused of dragging their feet on compensation, but Kate Burt, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society, said that Mr Glen appears to be moving "at pace" to get a compensation scheme up and running.

Clive Smith, chairman of the Haemophilia Society, said he asked Mr Glen about reports of a £10 billion compensation package, telling the PA news agency: "He said he wasn't going to deny it, but actually his view was that it might be a bit more than that."

Mr Smith added: "Our overall view is that things are happening quickly, lots of work is being done behind the scenes. It seems they are ready to make some significant announcements in the next few weeks."

Ms Burt added: "We were left cautiously optimistic. He appears to be genuinely committed and actually working at pace."

Mr Glen also reportedly said that the Government could be in a position to make an announcement on compensation on the day that the Infected Blood Inquiry publishes its final report on May 20, though Ms Burt said that charity officials had asked him to "give the community that day". The minister also told Ms Burt and Mr Smith that the Cabinet Office was working on a way to get people not already on support schemes registered as quickly as possible.

A number of details about the compensation scheme emerged last week, including:

- The full UK-wide compensation body, which will be arm's length of Government, will be called the Infected Blood Compensation Authority.

- This will be established no later than three months after the Victims and Prisoners Bill becomes law.

- Once established, people living with chronic infections will be "prioritised" by the compensation scheme.

- More people affected by the scandal will be eligible for interim compensation payments of £100,000. The first interim payments were only available to infected people and bereaved partners but now ministers have extended the scope so the payments can also be paid to the "estates of the deceased infected people who were registered with existing or former support schemes".

The Government has been approached for comment by PA.