Three former health secretaries have called on the government to provide immediate compensation to victims of the tainted blood scandal.
The chairman of the contaminated blood investigation called on Friday for the victims and their families. to pay “without delay” after it recommended the level of interim compensation payments. Sir Brian Langstaff said infected people and bereaved couples should receive “payments of no less than £100,000”.
Des Collins, a senior partner at Collins Solicitors, which represents some of the victims, said he would increase pressure on the government on Monday, after Boris Johnson was urged. to pay the provisional amounts to those affected at once and before more of them die. The recommendation for immediate payments was supported by former health secretaries Jeremy Hunt, Matt Hancock and Andy Burnham.
At least 2,400 people died after contracting HIV or hepatitis C as a result of receiving infected blood from the NHS in the 1970s and 1980s, and as many as 30,000 people became seriously ill. The scandal has been called the worst treatment disaster in NHS history.
An open letter to the prime minister this month signed by organizations including the Hemophilia Society and the Terrence Higgins Trust said 419 people had died between July 2017, when the investigation was announced, and February this year. He said an infected person had been reported to die every four days.
Ros Cooper, who became infected with hepatitis C after receiving infected blood products as a child, described the news of the interim recommendation as an “extraordinary development”. Cooper told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it’s evidence of how much has been discovered that would support this request.”
Cooper, who began receiving blood-clotting factor products when she was less than six months old, said being infected with hepatitis C had left her unable to work. “She’s been the controlling factor in my life ever since I found out I had it,” Cooper said. She said she had suffered from mental health issues and fatigue: “The mental side effects of being told you’re going to die in your 20s have been huge.”
He added that it had been “complicated” by having to “fight ever since, to try to obtain some level of recognition of justice from successive governments.”
Hunt echoed Collins, calling for payments to all bereaved victims and couples to be made “immediately.” Appearing on the Today show, he called on ministers to act before more victims die.
“I just urge ministers to recognize that time is of the essence and waiting, you know, a couple of months until, say, the leadership campaign is settled and the new prime minister has made the decision will mean that some more is people probably died,” he said.
“We should do it immediately. We have waited too long. The successive governments, of which I was a part, did not act as quickly as they should have done and we must recognize this as a terrible, terrible injustice”.
Hancock said the government had a “moral duty” to compensate the victims of the scandal and said he was “sure” it would. Burnham, a former health secretary and now mayor of Greater Manchester, said there could be be a case of corporate manslaughter charges.
The Cabinet Office said on Saturday it would act on the compensation recommendations “with the utmost urgency” and that a copy of the inquiry report would be presented to MPs “once parliament reconvenes” in September.
A spokesman said: “The government thanks Sir Brian Langstaff for his interim report on interim compensation for victims of infected blood.
“We recognize how important this will be for infected and affected people across the UK, and can confirm that the government will consider Sir Brian’s report and Sir Robert Francis QC’s recommendations with the utmost urgency and will respond as soon as possible. a copy of the report will be placed in the house once parliament reconvenes.