Survivors of the contaminated blood scandal have received interim government payments after a 40-year battle, but thousands of parents and children of the victims have still not received anything.
Ministers have accepted the urgency of making the £100,000 payments to some 3,000 surviving victims after being warned that those accidentally infected with HIV and hepatitis C were dying at the rate of one every four days.
But 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 given to up to 6,000 people in the 1970s and 1980s have already resulted in the deaths of more than 2,400 people in the biggest treatment scandal in the history of the NHS.
The government said it plans to make payments to those infected and relatives of partners 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 of those affected by this tragic injustice, we are taking action to bring justice to the victims and those who tragically lost their lives. partners have lost.” by ensuring that they receive these interim payments as soon as possible.
“We will continue to support everyone affected by this horrific tragedy, and I would like to personally pay tribute to all those who fought so determinedly for justice.”
The interim payments were recommended by Sir Robert Francis to help the remaining survivors “settle their affairs before they die” as part of his March report on how to compensate victims and their families.
Both the survivors and their families will have to wait until the completion of the current contaminated blood investigation to implement a full compensation scheme as recommended by Francis.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Kit Malthouse, said: “These interim payments will start the process of getting that assurance. My priority is to get the money to those people as quickly as possible.”
Last month, the inquiry’s chairman, Sir Brian Langstaff, called for payments of at least £100,000 to be made “promptly”.
The new lump sum will be made through existing financial support schemes for survivors and survivors set up in 2017 in England and the decentralized administrations. But these arrangements exclude the parents, siblings and children of victims.
Earlier this month, the investigation wrote to these families to inform them that they would miss it for now because the “practical way to make payments quickly is to do so through current support schemes”.
An email from the deputy secretary of the investigation urged the families to be patient. It said: “It is difficult to ask people who have experienced painful loss and waited so long to wait longer, but please try to keep in mind that this recommendation is not the end of the work of the investigation, and the Compensation issue has not been resolved in the interim payments investigation report.”
Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, which represents 1,500 of the victims, said: “We will continue to lobby the government until all rights holders are fully compensated for the loved ones they have lost.”
He added: “We look forward to clarification from the government in the coming days as to how and when payments will be processed and, more broadly, whether the rest of Sir Robert Francis QC’s recommendations should be accepted and full. compensation paid to all who are entitled, including the next of kin and the estate of the deceased.”
Survivors welcomed the money as the government’s first admission of debt, but called for the settlement to be relaxed.
Richard Warwick, 57, from Scarborough was infected with HIV and hepatitis C from contaminated treatments given to him as a student at Treloar College, a school specializing in the care of haemophiliacs. He told the inquiry that of the 89 students infected at the school, he is one of only 16 survivors.
Speaking to The Guardian, he said: “This is just the beginning of a meaningful compensation. It is absolutely embarrassing that it has taken so long for the government to admit its wrongdoing. And I am deeply saddened that parents who have lost their children, and children who have lost their parents, are not included in the payment plan. It’s so unfair.”
He accused the government of penny pinching. “They’ve put it off as long as possible, simply because the more people die, the less they end up having to pay out, so the scandal continues.”
He added: “No amount of money will bring our lives back. I have not been able to progress in a meaningful career. I couldn’t get a mortgage or life insurance. And we lost our family – we had our only child terminated because of the risk of HIV. And I spent countless years in the hospital.”