Infected Blood Inquiry: Interim Compensation Payments
The Infected Blood Inquiry formally began on 2 July 2018 with the aim of examining the circumstances in which thousands of NHS patients contracted HIV or Hepatitis C through infected blood products in the 1970s and 1980s. At present infected individuals and bereaved partners receive financial support payments, but they are still waiting to receive compensation for loss of earnings, care costs and any other lifetime losses.
Following a compensation framework study which was conducted by Sir Robert Francis QC, he recommended that interim compensation payments of no less than £100,000 should be made to individuals already enrolled on the financial support schemes. This led to an interim report from the Chair of the Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, which set out that interim payments of the amount recommended by Sir Robert Francis QC should be made without delay. His report commented on a shift in the Government accepting wrongdoing, quoting David Cameron in 2015 as having said: “it is difficult to imagine the feeling of unfairness that people must feel at being infected with something life hepatitis C or HIV as a result of a totally unrelated treatment within the NHS. To each and every one of those people I would like to say sorry on behalf of the Government for something that should not have happened”. This was echoed by Teresa May in 2017 when she spoke of “an appalling tragedy which should never have happened”.
Sir Brian stressed the importance for interim compensation payments to be made quickly as many victims have passed since the Inquiry was first established in 2018 and it is likely that individuals will continue to die before the Inquiry is completed as estimates report that one infected person dies every four days. Sir Brian’s recommendation was backed further by former health secretaries, Andy Burnham, Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock who advised Boris Johnson to deal with the matter of compensation promptly and not to use any excuses to delay the victims being compensated.
Despite the compensation coming too late for many victims who have tragically passed away, it is a step towards justice for the surviving victims and bereaved to be compensated for the longstanding physical and social suffering they have endured.
It is expected that the payments will amount to at least £400 million. Boris Johnson announced that compensation payments to the survivors of the contaminated blood scandal should be made “as soon as possible” as he said “while nothing can make up for the pain and suffering endured by those affected by this tragic injustice, we are taking action to do right by victims and those who have tragically lost their partners by making sure they receive these interim payments as quickly as possible” Mr Johnson’s decision arose shortly after Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak supported Sir Brian’s recommendation.
Whilst the infected blood scandal has caused and continues to cause the victims, bereaved and their families with an unimaginable amount of pain, the announcement is a move towards the government recognising the State’s culpability in what has been described as the worst treatment disaster in NHS history. Although no definitive date has been set, the Government have expressed that their intention is to make payments by October 2022 in England.
Saunders Law currently represents a group of core participants in the Infected Blood Inquiry. In addition to the Infected Blood Inquiry, Saunders Law is instructed on the Undercover Policing Inquiry and the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. We offer expert legal assistance
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