Ahead of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s evidence at the Infected Blood Inquiry on Wednesday 26th July, the chief executive of The Hepatitis C Trust Rachel Halford has written to him to urge him to use his appearance to announce the immediate implementation of a full compensation scheme and to encourage people who may be at risk to come forward for testing.
24th July 2023
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing ahead of your appearance at the Infected Blood Inquiry on July 26th.
As you know, in April the Infected Blood inquiry published its second interim report on compensation and redress and recommended that a compensation scheme should be set up now and begin work this year. The Hepatitis C Trust and those in the infected blood community that we campaign with wish to echo Sir Brian Langstaff’s statement that the Government does not need to wait for the final report to begin work, since this second interim report fully covers the inquiry’s recommendations on financial redress.
We strongly support Sir Brian’s recommendation for the immediate establishment of a full compensation scheme for people affected by the infected blood scandal and the extension of interim payments to groups that have not previously being eligible for financial support payments, such as bereaved parents, children and siblings and those who were given hepatitis C after September 1991.
Action must be taken now, rather than after the final report, and we were disappointed to hear in the most recent Government statements on the matter that no decision on compensation had been taken. People whose lives have been forever altered by the infected blood scandal have waited decades for justice and further delays are causing great pain to members of this community. Many of the 2,800 calls to our helpline this year have been related to the Infected Blood Inquiry and the callers have shared with us their disappointment, anger and sadness over the delays. With more than 500 people affected by the scandal estimated to have died since the Inquiry began – in addition to the thousands who had already died – there is no time to waste in delivering compensation to surviving victims and others affected.
We recognise that last summer the Government moved quickly to accept and implement the recommendations in the inquiry’s first interim report on interim compensation. It should now do the same for the final recommendations on compensation and redress, and we call on you to use your appearance in front of the Inquiry to announce the immediate implementation of a full compensation scheme.
Finally, our helpline still hears from around two callers every month who have just been diagnosed with hepatitis C due to blood transfusions before the mid-1990s. We need a national campaign to find people who remain undiagnosed and at risk of the deadly health complications linked to hepatitis C. We call upon the Government to encourage people who may be at risk to come forward for testing. World Hepatitis Day 2023 this Friday represents a timely opportunity to do so.
Chief Executive, The Hepatitis C Trust