Survivors of the tainted blood scandal received interim payments from the government after a 40-year battle, but thousands of parents and children of the victims have yet to receive anything.
Ministers have accepted the urgency of the need to make payments of £100,000 to some 3,000 surviving victims, after being warned that those mistakenly infected with HIV and hepatitis C were dying at a rate of one every four days.
But the parents and children of the victims accused the government of perpetuating the scandal by failing to acknowledge their own trauma and loss in today’s announcement.
Contaminated blood products administered in the 1970s and 1980s to up to 6,000 people have already killed more than 2,400 people in the biggest treatment scandal in NHS history.
The government said it intends to make payments to infected people and bereaved couples in England by the end of October. The same payments will be made in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Announcing the plan, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “While nothing can compensate for the pain and suffering endured by those affected by this tragic injustice, we are taking action to do what is right for the victims and those who have tragically lost. to their partners. making sure that they receive these interim payments as soon as possible.
“We will continue to stand with everyone affected by this horrific tragedy, and I want to personally pay tribute to all those who have fought so determinedly for justice.”
Sir Robert Francis recommended interim payments to help remaining survivors “get their affairs in order before they die” as part of his March report on compensating victims and their families.
Both the survivors and their families will have to wait until after the conclusion of the current tainted blood investigation for the implementation of a full compensation plan as recommended by Francis.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Kit Malthouse, said: “These interim payments will start the process of ensuring that certainty. My priority is to get the money to those people as quickly as possible.”
Last month, the chairman of the inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, called for payments of at least £100,000 “without delay”.
The new lump sum will be made through existing financial support schemes for survivors and bereaved partners established in 2017 in England and devolved administrations. But these schemes exclude the parents, siblings and children of the victims.
Earlier this month, the investigation wrote to these families, informing them that for now they would miss out because the “practical way to make payments quickly is to do so through current support schemes”.
An email from the undersecretary for investigation urged families to be patient. It said: “It is difficult to ask people who have experienced a painful loss and have waited so long to wait longer, but try to keep in mind that this recommendation is not the end of the research work, and the question of compensation has has not been resolved in the consultation report on payments on account”.
Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, which represents 1,500 of the victims, said, “We will continue to push the government until everyone who is entitled receives full compensation for the loved ones they have lost.”
He added: “We await clarification from the government in the coming days on how and when payments will be processed and more generally whether the rest of Sir Robert Francis QC’s recommendations will be accepted and full compensation paid to all. those who have the right, including the bereaved and the property of the deceased”.
Survivors welcomed the cash as the government’s first plea, but called for the scheme to be expanded.
Richard Warwick, 57, of Scarborough, was infected with HIV and hepatitis C in contaminated treatments given to him when he was a student at Treloar University, a school that specialized in the care of hemophiliacs. He told the investigation that of the 89 infected pupils at the school, he is one of 16 survivors.
Speaking to The Guardian, he said: “This is just the beginning of the road to meaningful compensation. It is absolutely disgraceful that it has taken the government so long to admit that it did something wrong. And it saddens me deeply that parents who lost their children and children who lost their parents are not included in the payment scheme. It’s so unfair.”
He accused the government of being stingy. “They have put up with as long as they can simply because the more people die, the less they will have to pay in the end, so the scandal continues.”
He added: “No amount of money will bring us back to life. I haven’t been able to progress in any significant races. I couldn’t get a mortgage or life insurance. And we lost our family: our only son was laid off due to the risk of HIV. And I’ve spent countless years in the hospital.”