Plans are being drawn up by government ministers to award compensation to people who received infected blood, according to a report in The Sunday Times.
The government is expected to set up an independent review to examine proposals for a compensation scheme for those affected, the newspaper states. Until now, the government has provided financial support to those affected but never accepted liability and paid compensation.
The Infected Blood Inquiry, which began in 2018, is currently investigating the scandal, in which tens of thousands of people received blood contaminated with hepatitis C and HIV between the late 1970s and early 1990s, when robust screening of blood was introduced.
People infected included those in receipt of blood products, such as people with haemophilia, but also those who received blood transfusions during routine operations, after suffering injuries in accidents or following complications during childbirth.
Responding to the news, Samantha May, The Hepatitis C Trust’s Helpline Information and Support Service Manager, said: “We welcome the prospect of what would be a long-overdue acknowledgement of liability and compensation for people affected by this appalling scandal.
“We urge the government to engage closely with both those infected and affected, to ensure the level of compensation is fair. Whilst no amount of money can ever adequately make up for what they and their families have been through, this would be a positive first step in beginning to make amends for the terrible experiences they have had to endure for decades.”
Separately, The Independent has reported on a new judicial review, launched by the legal firm Leigh Day and Carolyn Challis, a woman denied financial support after contracting hepatitis C through infected blood. The government has said only patients infected before September 1991 are eligible for the payments, but Ms Challis was infected at some stage between February 1992 and 1993 following three blood transfusions and a bone marrow transplant to treat Hodgkin’s Disease, a form of blood cancer.
Rachel Halford, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, spoke to The Independent for the article, noting that there are other cases of people having contracted hepatitis C after September 1991: “We do have a number of people we have previously or are currently supporting who were infected after September 1991. We believe the inquiry should be exploring how the government could know that after that point no more infected blood was used. There are cases like Carolyn’s where people with hepatitis C have no other risk factors other than through contaminated blood – she is not alone.
“This is not something these people chose. These are people who put their faith in the NHS and then they have ended up with HIV or hepatitis C and it is soul-destroying for them. There is a hidden population of people in the UK with hepatitis C. Testing for it needs to be normalised and rolled out in the general population.”
You can read more about the Infected Blood Inquiry here. For any further information or assistance, please do not hesitate to call The Hepatitis C Trust’s confidential helpline on 020 7089 6221 or by e-mail. Everyone on the helpline has had hepatitis C themselves and can provide a wide range of information on all aspects of living with or being affected by hepatitis C. We can also provide guidance on making claims to the various infected blood support schemes people are eligible for.