Three former health secretaries have called on the UK government to provide immediate compensation to victims of the tainted blood scandal.
On Friday, the chairman of the tainted blood inquiry called on the victims and their families must be paid “without delay”. after it recommends the level of interim compensation payments. Sir Brian Langstaff said “payments of no less than £100,000” should be made to infected people and bereaved partners.
Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, which represents some of the victims, said he would put pressure on the government on Monday after calling on Boris Johnson. to pay interim amounts to victims immediately and more before they die. The recommendation for immediate payments was backed by former health secretaries Jeremy Hunt, Matt Hancock and Andy Burnham.
In the 1970s and 1980s, at least 2,400 people died after contracting HIV or hepatitis C as a result of receiving infected blood from the NHS. 30 thousand people fell seriously ill. The scandal has been labeled the worst healthcare disaster in NHS history.
An open letter to the prime minister, signed this month by organizations including the Haemophilia Society and the Terrence Higgins Trust, said 419 people had died between July 2017 and February this year, when the inquiry was announced. It was reported that an infected person dies every four days.
Ros Cooper, who contracted hepatitis C after being given 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 a testament to how much has been revealed to support that claim.”
Cooper, who began taking blood clotting factor products when he was less than six months old, said his hepatitis C infection left him unable to work. “It’s been a controlling factor in my life since I knew I had it as a teenager,” Cooper said. She said she suffered from mental health problems and fatigue: “The mental side effects of being told you’re going to die in your 20s have been huge.”
He added that it “combined” with having to “fight ever since, try to get some degree of recognition of justice from successive governments”.
Echoing Collins, Hunt called for “immediate” payments to all victims and bereaved partners. Speaking on the Today programme, he urged ministers to act before more victims die.
“I would just urge ministers to accept that time is of the essence and you just have to wait, you know, wait a few months until the leadership campaign is settled and the new prime minister decides. People are likely to die,” he said.
“We have to do it immediately. We waited too long. “Successive governments that I have been a part of have not acted as quickly as they should have, and we have to accept that as a terrible, terrible injustice.”
Hancock said the government had a “moral obligation” to pay compensation to victims of the scandal, which he said he was “convinced” of. Burnham, a former health secretary and now mayor of Greater Manchester, said it could be There may be a case for corporate manslaughter charges.
The Cabinet Office said on Saturday it would act on compensation recommendations “as a matter of urgency” and a copy of the inquiry’s report would be presented to MPs “after parliament reconvenes” in September.
A spokesman said: “The Government is grateful to Sir Brian Langstaff for his interim report on interim compensation for infected blood victims.
“We understand how important this will be to those infected and affected across the UK and can confirm that the Government will consider Sir Brian’s report and Sir Robert Francis QC’s recommendations as a matter of urgency and respond as soon as possible. A copy of the report will be sent to the House when Parliament reconvenes will be placed”.
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