Earlier today Cabinet Office Minister Jeremy Quin MP made a statement to update the House on preparations for the Infected Blood Inquiry, which is expected to conclude next year.
The Minister said interim compensation payments that have already been made by the Government are “just one part” of the recommendations Sir Robert Francis put forward for compensation and that there is a “moral case” for expanding the scope of eligibility to include children and parents.
However, the Minister also made clear that the Government does not now plan to publish a response to Sir Robert’s compensation study ahead of the full inquiry report, as they previously pledged. When the Government received the report in March – now over eight months ago – the then-Cabinet Office Minister Michael Ellis pledged that the Government would “publish the Study and the Government response, in time for the Inquiry and its core participants to consider them before Sir Robert gives evidence to the Inquiry”. Sir Robert subsequently gave evidence to the Infected Blood Inquiry in July.
In questions after today’s statement, several MPs asked the Minister about a timetable and specific plans for developing a compensation framework in advance of the full report, and also if the Government would commit to bereaved children and parents and carers being eligible for compensation. Margaret Greenwood MP expressed concern about people who were born abroad or people whose medical records had been destroyed “falling through the gaps in the present framework for financial assistance and compensation” and asked if the Government had assessed how many people were affected by these gaps.
Rachel Halford, CEO of The Hepatitis C Trust, said: “We welcome the Government’s reaffirmation of their commitment to ensuring people who received infected blood or blood products receive compensation; although the timeline for justice still remains uncertain.
“We are disappointed that the Government has still not made it clear whether bereaved parents, children and carers will ever receive compensation. As it stands, a huge number of people have fallen through the gaps for support from the Government. After a decades-long struggle for justice, these people continue to be let down.
“Time is running out and action is needed now to find those that remain undiagnosed or have not come forward for support because of stigma. We need a national campaign to raise awareness of infected blood as a route of transmission. Untreated hepatitis C can lead to serious liver damage and too many people have died already. We don’t have time to wait.”