Northamptonshire dad who lost three cousins to contaminated blood scandal backs calls for payments

  • Watch a video report by Graham Stothard of ITV News Anglia

A man whose three cousins died as a result of being given contaminated blood says interim compensation must be paid to victims as soon as possible.

Matthew Harris, from Brixworth, Northamptonshire, was one of thousands of patients who were infected with hepatitis in the 1970s and 80s.

In July the chairman of the Infected Blood Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, said an interim compensation payment of no less than £100,000 should be made to each of the victims “without delay” in light of the "profound physical and mental suffering" caused by the scandal.

"It's not a compensation claim, it is an interim payment and is welcome, no doubt about that," Mr Harris told ITV News Anglia.

"There were people with one person dying every four days from this infection. So it is needed now and it is needed quick."

Messages left in memory of those affected by contaminated blood product. Credit: PA

Mr Harris, who has haemophilia, was only told in his early 20s that he contracted the disease as a child when a hospital gave him blood contaminated with hepatitis C.

Haemophilia is a genetic disorder passed through generations. Three cousins who went through similar treatments have died as a result of infections they contracted.

"Has it affected me? Yeah, and it's also affected my family," he said.

"My wife had to give up her job and it has affected my children because they've seen me being extremely ill, seen me taking all of this medication and they've grown up with it.

"And because it's been dragged on for so long, it's just another part of Daddy's life."

An estimated 2,400 people died after being infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood or blood products in what has been labelled the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

Chris Smith with his mother and father Credit: Family photo

Chris Smith, who lives in Bedford, lost his father in 1986 of HIV AIDS contracted during treatment for haemophilia.

He fears the payments are not enough.

“People need to know just because they've heard a soundbite on TV [about the compensation] this isn't over. This has only just begun.

“I'm happy for my fellow campaigners, the survivors, that have been left all of this time to try and get on with their lives.

"It looks like we've now got some much-needed support heading their way, but I am sad and I'm a little bit upset that realistically, half of these families have missed out.

"A lot of kids died in this scandal. A lot of young kids died and their parents are kind of left with nothing.

"And also the kids, the kids that sat and watched their parents die in front of their eyes, they are obviously not taken into consideration."

The Cabinet Office said that it will act on compensation recommendations "with the utmost urgency" and a copy of the inquiry's report will be laid before MPs "once Parliament reconvenes" - in September.

A spokesperson said: "The government is grateful to Sir Brian Langstaff for his interim report regarding interim compensation for victims of infected blood.

"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.

"A copy of the report will be laid in the House once Parliament reconvenes."

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