Swann pledges to deliver infected blood compensation at same time as rest of UK

Robin Swann has pledged to ensure that victims of the infected blood scandal in Northern Ireland will receive compensation at the same time as the rest of the UK.

Speaking in the Stormont Assembly, the Health Minister said victims had already been failed by the state, and this must not happen again with the compensation package.

Mr Swann issued an apology to victims on Monday in London when he travelled to the capital for the delivery of the Infected Blood Inquiry report.

The 2,527-page report found that the scandal “could largely have been avoided” and there was a “pervasive” cover-up to hide the truth.

The investigation said patients were knowingly exposed to unacceptable risks of infection as it outlined deliberate attempts to conceal what unfolded, including evidence of officials destroying documents.

The report highlighted that Northern Ireland was reliant on blood donated by prisoners and military personnel, two groups associated with higher risk of blood infections.

It also found that authorities in Northern Ireland “brought little independent thinking” to the issue and were content to allow central government to take the lead on all significant decisions related to the scandal.

Mr Swann said supporting the victims has been one of his top priorities since first becoming Health Minister in 2020.

(PA Graphics)

Earlier, Cabinet Office minister John Glen some victims of the scandal will receive a £210,000 interim compensation payment before the end of the summer, and the first full payments will be made before the end of the year.

Mr Swann said those payments will be made in Northern Ireland at the same time as in the rest of the UK.

He said a previous payment was processed through the department’s business services organisation (BSO), and once the money is received from Westminster, it will be transferred to BSO for payments.

“There will be no postcode differential in how those who are affected and infected will actually be treated or supported through this compensation package, because I believe that they have already been failed by the state, and I think to delay this because of where someone lives would be a further failure,” he said.