Parents and children of victims of the “worst treatment disaster in NHS history” must be compensated, the chairman of the inquiry into the infected blood scandal has said.
Sir Brian Langstaff, a former judge, said he believed the action was “necessary to alleviate the immediate suffering” of those affected, noting that many were now “on borrowed time”.
During the 1970s and 1980s, tens of thousands of people became infected with HIV and hepatitis C after receiving transfusions of contaminated NHS blood.
About 1,350 people are believed to have contracted HIV, of whom about 1,000 had died in 2019, according to the research. Another 26,800 had contracted hepatitis C, of whom some 1,820 had died of causes related to the infection.
Langstaff issued his statement ahead of the release of his full report, saying he was “recommending further interim compensation payments to recognize deaths of people who have not been recognized thus far.”
Last July, it ruled that the victims, or their bereaved partners, should each receive no less than £100,000 in compensation as quickly as possible, leading to payments of around £400 million.
Suggesting that the target group now needed to be expanded, he said that around 380 children with bleeding disorders had been infected with HIV, some of whom had died in infancy, but their parents had never received compensation. The losses of children who were orphaned as a result of infections transmitted by blood transfusions and blood products have also not been recognized, she added.
Langstaff, whose investigation was opened in 2018, described how victims had campaigned for decades to have their voices heard. “[Notonlydotheinfectionsthemselvesandtheirconsequencesdeservecompensationbutalsotheinjuriescommittedbytheauthoritywhoseresponseservedtoaggravatethesufferingofthepeople”[Notonlydotheinfectionsthemselvesandtheirconsequencesmeritcompensationbuttooallthewrongsdonebyauthoritywhoseresponseservedtocompoundpeople’ssuffering”[Nosololoscontagiosensímismosysusconsecuenciasmerecencompensaciónsinotambiénlosagravioscometidosporlaautoridadcuyarespuestasirvióparaagravarelsufrimientodelaspersonas”[Notonlydotheinfectionsthemselvesandtheirconsequencesmeritcompensationbutsotoodothewrongsdonebyauthoritywhoseresponseservedtocompoundpeople’ssuffering”
He cited former health secretaries, including Jeremy Hunt, now chancellor, who told the inquiry that the failure of successive administrations to find a resolution represented “a failure by the British state.”
Langstaff added: “This has been described as the worst treatment in NHS history, and we have a lot to learn as a nation to help ensure people never suffer in a similar way again.”
He noted that hepatitis B infection should be recognized as a compensatory reason, just like hepatitis C and HIV. He also urged an end to an automatic deadline for compensation eligibility, opening the possibility that people infected with hepatitis C after September 1991, when effective testing became available, could still qualify for compensation. compensation.
In addition, Langstaff said “specialist psychological support” should be available for people in England who have lost loved ones, as is already the case in the rest of the UK.
It added that an expert report had concluded that “the death of parents as a result of infected blood and blood products has significantly devastated a generation of children.”
Rachel Halford, chief executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, a charity, described the interim report as “a clear call to action for the government, making a strong moral case for them to accept and compensate the harm caused to all those affected by the scandal of contaminated blood”.
Jason Evans, director of Factor 8, an advocacy organization, said compensation claims “must be able to be pursued as soon as possible with access to independent legal representation.”