An interim compensation payment of no less than £100,000 should be made to each of the victims of the contaminated blood scandal “without delay”, the chairman of the Infected Blood Inquiry Sir Brian Langstaff said.
Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, said Sir Brian’s recommendation to the government for immediate interim payments was a “welcome development”.
In a letter to Paymaster General Michael Ellis accompanying a report, Sir Brian said: “As you will read, it was the force of Sir Robert Francis QC’s recommendation of an interim payment, as amplified by him in the course of his oral evidence to the inquiry, that caused me to reflect on whether I should exercise my powers to make such a report.
“I believed that elementary justice required that I consider this question. No submission made to me argued that I should not make a recommendation. Having considered the submissions and reflected on the evidence this inquiry has heard of profound physical and mental suffering across a wide range of backgrounds, from a diversity of places and in a variety of personal circumstances, I considered it right that I should make this report.
“I recommend that: (1) An interim payment should be paid, without delay, to all those infected and all bereaved partners currently registered on UK infected blood support schemes, and those who register between now and the inception of any future scheme; (2) The amount should be no less than £100,000, as recommended by Sir Robert Francis QC.”
The judge made it clear provisional compensation should be paid, as Emily Morgan reports
It comes after a report on the interim payments by Sir Robert, who studied options for a framework for compensation for victims of the infected blood tragedy, was published in June.
The inquiry was established to examine how thousands of patients in the UK were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.
About 2,400 people died in what has been labelled the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.
Mr Collins said: “These immediate interim payments for some of the most vulnerable will, at last, provide some financial compensation that many of those suffering have been due for decades.
“Whilst coming too late for the thousands who have tragically passed away over the intervening years since they were infected, it is a welcome development for some of those still living with the dreadful repercussions of this avoidable treatment failure.
“We look forward to the day when all victims of this scandal are properly compensated for their suffering and for those whose decisions led to the ruining of countless innocent lives being held to account.
“We now await the government’s response, and would like to thank the IBI chair, Sir Brian Langstaff, for recognising the importance of today’s recommendations.”
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The government does not have to accept his proposal, but in 2021 Matt Hancock said it would “of course” pay compensation if the inquiry recommended it.
The then-health secretary told the inquiry the government had a “moral responsibility” to address the impact of the scandal.
A government spokesperson said it would consider the former High Court judge’s report with “the utmost urgency” and “respond as soon as possible”.
“The government is grateful to Sir Brian Langstaff for his interim report regarding interim compensation for victims of infected blood,” the spokesperson said.
“We recognise how important this will be for people infected and affected across the UK, and can confirm that the Government will consider Sir Brian’s report and the recommendations of Sir Robert Francis QC with the utmost urgency, and will respond as soon as possible."