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Damning public inquiry report blames the NHS and government for contaminated blood scandal.


Victims of the UK contaminated blood scandal could receive more than £2.5m compensation under a multibillion-pound scheme after a damning public inquiry report blamed the NHS and government for the tragedy.

Paymaster general, John Glen, outlined details of the scheme, following criticism of the government’s failure to set up a compensation framework for those infected and affected by the scandal, in the final report by inquiry chairman, Sir Brian Langstaff. He called for such a scheme last year.

According to the report, 30,000 people were infected with HIV, hepatitis C or both after being given contaminated blood products or transfusions from the 1970s to the early 90s, and the 3,000-death toll is rising every week.

John Glen announced that Robert Francis, who wrote the report on compensation that  led to Brian Langstaff’s recommendations on payments, would be interim chair of a new infected blood compensation authority.

John Glen announced that before the establishment of the full scheme, payments of £210,000 would be made to infected people who have already received interim payments of £100,000, within 90 days.

He told MPs: “To be crystal clear, if you have been directly or indirectly infected by NHS blood, blood products or tissue contaminated with HIV or hepatitis C or have developed a chronic infection from blood contaminated with hepatitis B, you will be eligible to claim compensation under the scheme and, where an infected person has died but would have been eligible under these criteria, compensation will be paid to their estate.

“It’s not just the harm caused by the infections that requires compensation, it’s also the wrong suffered by those affected that must also be compensated for. So, when a person with an eligible infection has been accepted on to the scheme, their affected loved ones will be able to apply for compensation. That means partners, parents, siblings, children, friends and family who’ve acted as carers of those who are infected are all eligible to claim.”  

Government figures suggest that those infected with hepatitis could receive from £35,500 in compensation for an “acute” infection, and up to £1,557,000 for the most severe illnesses caused by the virus. People living with HIV could receive up to £2,615,000, while those with both infections could get up to £2,735,000, depending on severity.

The estimated total cost of the scheme depends on whether more people come forward, and how many seek payments beyond the standard metric, but the final total sum is thought to be about £10bn.

Founder of the Factor 8 campaign group, Jason Evans, whose father, Jonathan, died in 1993 after being infected with HIV and hepatitis C from a contaminated blood product, said: “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.”

Chief executive of the Hepatitis C Trust, Rachel Halford, said: “It is reassuring to the infected blood community that someone who understands the scandal and the people affected by it will guide this important work.

“While the indications of the announcement are promising, much more detail is urgently needed to clarify who will be able to access financial support and when, alongside clearer information on the future of existing blood support schemes.”

John Glen said Robert Francis would confer with the infected blood community on the proposed scheme during the coming weeks before it is finalised, but the expectation was that final payments would start before the end of the year.

All payments will be exempt from income, capital gains and inheritance tax, as well as disregarded for the purpose of means-tested benefit assessments, and there will be a right to appeal against the level of award.

John Glen added that in line with Robert Francis’s recommendations, they would reflect the impact of physical and mental injury caused by infection, the stigma and social isolation suffered, the disruption of family and private life, care costs and financial losses.

Until 2022, when more than 4,000 survivors and bereaved partners received interim compensation of £100,000 each after Brian Langstaff endorsed Robert Francis’s recommendations, only ex-gratia payments had been made.

Last year Brian Langstaff said interim payments should be extended to bereaved parents and children, and he expressed frustration when the government failed to do this before publication of the final report.

In his report, Brian Langstaff said the victims of the scandal had been let down by “successive governments” who ignored warnings about the risks of contamination, engaged in a “cover-up” and resisted for decades holding a public inquiry or paying compensation.