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UK Blood Scandal Victims To Receive Payouts This Year – Govt

A bombshell report released Monday found the tainted blood affair was covered up by successive governments and health officials, and largely could have been avoided.


FILE: Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Victims of a decades-long contaminated blood scandal that has killed about 3,000 people in Britain will start receiving final compensation payments this year, the government said on Tuesday, with some likely to receive sums of around £2 million.

More than 30,000 people, including children, were infected with viruses such as HIV and hepatitis after being given the tainted blood between the 1970s and early 1990s.

A bombshell report released Monday found the tainted blood affair was covered up by successive governments and health officials, and largely could have been avoided.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued a “wholehearted and unequivocal” apology and promised compensation for everyone affected.

Updating parliament on those plans Tuesday, government minister John Glen said victims would receive interim payments of £210,000 ($267,000) within 90 days, before the final scheme becomes operational.

“Our expectation is that final payments will start before the end of the year,” he added, stressing that individual compensation will differ depending on circumstances.

Victims are still dying from what has been described as the biggest treatment disaster in the eight-decade history of the state-run National Health Service (NHS).

It follows similar scandals including the wrongful prosecution for fraud of hundreds of UK Post Office workers because of faulty software, and the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which falsely blamed football fans for the tragedy that killed 97.

The government has estimated that someone infected with HIV could receive up to £2.6 million.

Friends, family members and carers of those infected will also be eligible for compensation, meaning that several people could receive money for one infection.

Glen said there was “no restriction” on the total cost of the package, which according to media reports could be more than £10 billion.

By the time the total costs are realised, Britain will likely have a new government, with the main opposition Labour party expected to win a general election due later this year.

Compensation will be paid to the estate of any person who has died from the scandal and money will be distributed either in a lump sum or via regular payments, Glen added.

All payments will be tax-free.

– Rebalance –

Victims included those needing blood transfusions for accidents and in surgery, and those suffering from blood disorders such as haemophilia who were treated with donated blood plasma products, as well as the partners of those infected.

Martin Reid, who was infected with hepatitis C in the early 1980s when was treated for haemophilia as a child, said some compensation details “need to be discussed and looked at in further detail”.

“But I think overall on the whole it’s just another massive positive step forward,” the 44-year-old told BBC Radio Scotland.

Judge Brian Langstaff’s report, running to more than 2,500 pages, found a “catalogue of failures” with “catastrophic” consequences for victims and their loved ones.

It concluded that blood donors were not screened properly, the risk of AIDS was downplayed and too many transfusions were also given when they were not necessarily needed.

In some instances, children with bleeding disorders were treated as “objects for research”.

When victims were told the truth, sometimes years later, this was sometimes done in “insensitive” and “inappropriate” ways, the report said.

There were even attempts to conceal the scandal, including evidence that officials in the health department destroyed documents in 1993, according to the report.

Sunak’s official spokesman told reporters on Tuesday: “We must fundamentally rebalance the system so that we finally address this pattern so familiar from other inquiries like Hillsborough where innocent victims have to fight for decades just to be believed and heard.

“We will work together across government, our health services and civil society to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen in our country again.”

AFP