UK

82 people have died since call for infected blood compensation, say campaigners

Campaigners are to descend on Westminster to call on the Government to act.

Campaigners are demanding action on compensation for infected blood victims and their loved ones
Campaigners outside the Infected Blood inquiry last year Campaigners are demanding action on compensation for infected blood victims and their loved ones (Victoria Jones/PA)

Some 82 victims of the infected blood scandal have died since recommendations were made about compensation for people affected by the scandal and their loved ones, campaigners have said.

Campaigners are planning a demonstration in Westminster on Wednesday calling for urgent action on compensation payments.

The Infected Blood Inquiry, which is due to publish its final report in May, made its final recommendations on compensation for victims and their loved ones in April 2023.

The Government has previously been accused of dragging its feet over compensation and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was heckled when he appeared before the inquiry last year as he vowed to pay compensation “as swiftly as possible”.

Campaigners are assembling ahead of next week’s Budget to demand money is allocated to compensating people affected by the scandal.

Thousands of patients were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

Richard Angell, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “There is no need to wait for the final blood inquiry report for the government to fund and legislate for compensation for those infected and affected.

“The victims of this scandal have been waiting for justice for decades and shouldn’t be made to wait any longer, with 82 having died since the inquiry published its full and final recommendations on compensation in April 2023.”

Kate Burt, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society, said: “It is sickening and cruel that five decades after our community was exposed to the horror of the contaminated blood scandal, we are still waiting for government to right that wrong and take responsibility for what happened.

“The Government must commit to paying full compensation and put an end to the long-standing, shameful political culture of passing the buck on this issue.”

Rachel Halford, chief executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, added: “Today’s lobby reflects the community’s profound frustration and distress after more than 50 years without justice.

“The Government’s refusal to act is actively harming these people, people whose lives have already been devastated by infected blood.

“They deserve better than this.

“We are calling the Government  to act: accept responsibility for this terrible scandal and pay compensation now.”

A Government spokesperson said: “This was an appalling tragedy, and our thoughts remain with all those impacted.

“We are clear that justice needs to be delivered for the victims and have already accepted the moral case for compensation.

“This covers a set of extremely complex issues, and it is right we fully consider the needs of the community and the far-reaching impact that this scandal has had on their lives.

“The Government intends to respond in full to Sir Brian’s recommendations for wider compensation following the publication of the inquiry’s final report.”

Earlier this month, concerns were raised about the expert appointed to advise the Government on compensation.

Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery was appointed as chairman of a group of clinical, legal and social care experts to give “technical advice on compensation”.

But campaigners questioned Sir Jonathan’s role at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where he has been chairman since 2019, and his former membership of Bayer’s bioethics council.

The Factor 8 campaign group said: “The Oxford NHS Trust is at the heart of the infected blood scandal and Bayer manufactured and supplied much of the HCV (hepatitis C virus) and HIV infected Factor VIII products to the UK during the 1980s.”