In a written statement today, Pay Master General John Glen MP announced that the Government have appointed a group of clinical, legal and social care experts to advise the Cabinet Office on detailed technical considerations of responding to the Infected Blood Inquiry’s recommendations on compensation.
It was also announced that Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery had been appointed Chair of this expert group.
In response, Rachel Halford, CEO of The Hepatitis C Trust, said:
“Today’s announcement that Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery will lead a group of experts to advise the Cabinet Office on infected blood compensation has blindsided campaigners and the infected blood community.
“Almost a year ago the Infected Blood Inquiry recommended the Government rapidly establish a compensation system. Any counsel on this matter should have been sought at that time.
“The Inquiry has unequivocally recommended that the detail of the compensation scheme be entrusted to an independent, arms-length body, not the Cabinet Office. We are concerned about the remit of this new expert panel and its purpose, and whether it may constitute yet another barrier to delivering justice.
“The Government tells us this group has already begun its work. They must urgently clarify what the group has been set up to do, who is part of it, and how their advice will be made public. Concerns among affected communities about Professor Sir Johnathan Montgomery’s work with the pharmaceutical company Bayer, a company that made blood products, must urgently be addressed. After five decades of failings, it is absolutely critical that the community has confidence in the Government’s ability to deliver on its promises now; presently this is sorely lacking.”