Today, Rishi Sunak presented evidence to the Infected Blood Inquiry.
The Prime Minister was met with jeering and heckling from the audience as he followed the lead of other senior politicians this week by not committing to a timeframe for setting up a compensation scheme for victims and family members affected by the scandal.
Mr Sunak told the Inquiry that his government was the first to accept the moral obligation for compensation for the scandal and that interim payments of £100,000 had been made to 4,500 people affected by the scandal. But he also reaffirmed that the Government would wait until the Inquiry’s final report before setting up a compensation scheme.
At the closing of the evidence session, Inquiry Chair, Sir Brian Langstaff, implored Mr Sunak to do all he could “to reassure [people affected and infected], preferably by actions rather than by words – but either will do – actions preferably, that there will be the compensation which is just and fair and it will be delivered as soon as possible. Because if it troubles my conscience I would think it would trouble the conscience of a caring government, and you have said that’s what you would wish to be.”
Following the conclusion of proceedings , Rachel Halford, CEO of The Hepatitis C Trust, said:
“More than three months have passed since Sir Brian Langstaff recommended that a compensation scheme for those affected by the contaminated blood scandal be set up and begin work this year. But listening to the evidence from Rishi Sunak and other senior politicians this week, we are no clearer about when this will happen and what the government plans to do next despite their insistence otherwise.
“This lack of clarity is now actively harming a community that has been let down by successive governments for more than 40 years. Our helpline has received almost 3,000 calls this year from people who contracted hepatitis C via blood transfusion, and their family members, expressing their frustration and despair as they are forced to continue to wait. But there is no time left. Thousands of people impacted by this scandal have already died without seeing justice delivered.
“We are calling on the government to implement the recommendations of the Infected Blood Inquiry without delay. Actions speak louder than words – especially for a community that has gotten so used to broken promises. The Government must immediately establish a full compensation scheme for those affected by the infected blood scandal and extend interim payments to groups that have not previously been eligible for financial support payments, such as bereaved parents, children and siblings and people who were given hepatitis C after September 1991.”