Patients who were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products imported from America are receiving £100,000 compensation from the government. Around 2,400 people are believed to have died from it, according to Sky News.
The government has agreed to offer £100,000 in compensation to victims of the tainted blood scandal. This decision comes after decades of campaigning and after the government denied responsibility.
The announcement was met with mixed reviews because while survivors will now receive long-awaited help and recognition, many others have already died and, apart from spouses, relatives of the deceased will not receive compensation.
The scandal has been described as the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.
Get infected with HIV and hepatitis C through blood products
Patients were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products imported from America, and about 2,400 people are believed to have died as a result.
Andrew Evans, 45, is one of around 4,000 victims who survived. After the announcement, he said: “Obviously, it’s a very welcome amount of money. If you spread £100,000 over 40 years of infection, that’s £2,500 a year. For me personally, I will be able to do what I want most, which is to secure the future of my family. But I’m also very aware of the people who can’t do that at the moment.”
Andrew was infected through hemophilia treatments at the age of five with HIV and hepatitis C and developed AIDS at the age of 16.
His parents took him to Disneyland in a wheelchair, thinking it would be his last vacation. He was saved by advances in AIDS treatments, but throughout his childhood he kept his medical condition a secret from his friends at school.
Total and absolute stigma attached to HIV
He said: “I think the reason was the complete and utter stigma that was attached to HIV at the time. I had friends who woke up to ugly packages in the mailbox, with AIDS garbage graffiti all over their house. So, I kept everything completely secret. I didn’t tell anyone at school. I didn’t even tell my best friends until it became absolutely obvious that I was sick and I couldn’t hide it anymore.”
After decades of campaigning, an inquiry was launched in July 2018. Former health secretaries and Prime Minister Sir John Major gave evidence, but no one claimed responsibility and Sir John described those who became infected as having “incredible bad luck”.
Campaigners claimed it was incompetence, a reckless method of collecting blood plasma in the US that used risky donors such as prison inmates and drug users. The blood clotting product called Factor VIII pooled plasma from up to 40,000 donors, adding an additional risk of contaminating the lots.
Immediate provision of compensation to surviving victims
Sir Brian Langstaff, chairman of the inquiry, recommended immediate compensation for the surviving victims and the spouses of those who died, due to “profound physical and mental suffering”.
Now the government is giving them £100,000 each.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “While nothing can compensate for the pain and suffering endured by those affected by this tragic injustice, we are taking steps to bring justice to the victims and those who have tragically lost their partners by ensuring they receive these interim payments as quickly as possible. We will continue to stand with all those affected by this terrible tragedy and I want to personally pay tribute to all those who fought so determinedly for justice.”
The government wants to make payments to those who have been infected
However, there is still nothing for people like Lauren Palmer, 38, who lost both her parents to the scandal when she was just nine. Lauren’s father, Stephen, received Factor VIII and died of AIDS in August 1993. He had unknowingly infected her mother, who died the same month.
The government plans to make payments to those who have been infected and bereaved partners in England by the end of October. The same payments will be made in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The intention is for the payments to be tax-free and not affect other financial benefits that a person may receive. This is a hard-won victory for some, but decades overdue.