Ahead of the Health Secretary giving evidence at the Infected Blood Inquiry on Friday 21 May, Terrence Higgins Trust Chief Executive Ian Green calls on Matt Hancock to do the right thing and commit to compensation for the survivors of the Contaminated Blood Scandal.
Terrence Higgins Trust Chief Executive Ian Green says: 'Matt Hancock has the opportunity to do the right thing at the Infected Blood Inquiry this week and give the community of survivors the commitment to substantial compensation that they have always deserved.
'Nothing can take away the pain and loss that this group feel. Too many people have had to live their lives with a stigma that was so extreme for those infected with HIV in the 1980s and 1990s. Those who are still with us are having to face the struggles that ageing with HIV brings. There are too many wives without husbands, children without parents and parents without children because of the catastrophic impact that contaminated blood products still have years after they stopped being used.
'When we have talked to our service users at Terrence Higgins Trust who were infected or affected by HIV because of contaminated blood products they tell us that they want "proper compensation, not handouts” and “fair compensation so everyone can just live the rest of their lives in dignity and peace.”
'It is obvious from the evidence presented to the inquiry this week that the government know they will have to provide substantial compensation. It is time they end the indignity and anxiety around this for survivors.'
During the 1970s and 1980s infected blood products were used by the National Health Service. At least 1,243 people were infected with HIV, the overwhelming majority were patients with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders. Those infected and affected by this have never received compensation, justice or adequate answers about what went so very wrong that allowed for this to happen. A public inquiry was announced in 2017 as a result of years of campaigning by the survivors of the scandal. This week the inquiry is hearing from the four nations of the UK health ministers.
The day before the UK parliament went into recess for Easter, Penny Mordaunt, Paymaster General released a ministerial written statement. The statement fell short of a commitment from the Government to provide compensation, instead it announced a review into a ‘compensation framework’.
During the Infected Blood Inquiry this week, evidence EIBS0000705 [pdf] was presented.
This was a letter from Penny Mordaunt, Paymaster General, to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Monday 21 September 2020, and in it she says:
'[It is] inevitable that the Government will need to provide substantial compensation. The costs are likely to be high, and I firmly believe that we should begin preparing for this now - before the Inquiry reports.'
The Minister goes on to say: 'I cannot stress enough the urgency of taking long overdue action on financial support and compensation.'
The then Scottish Minister for Public Health and Sport, Mairi Gougeon, Robin Swann the Minister of Health for Department of Health in Northern Ireland and Vaughan Gething the Minister for Health and Social Services from 2016 to May 2021 agreed when giving evidence to the inquiry this week that it is ‘inevitable’ that the Government will have to pay substantial financial compensation.