Today marks 12 months since the full and final recommendations on compensation was published by the Infected Blood Inquiry.

For victims of the ‘worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS’ and this five-decade long struggle for truth and justice that has ravaged those infected with HIV and other viruses as a result of contaminated blood products, it is another anniversary to add to their list. The anniversary of finding out that they or their loved one was infected; the anniversary of them first becoming very unwell as a result of the infection – or infections – that were contracted; the anniversaries of the births and deaths of loved ones who are no longer around to see justice for the wrongs done to them by the state.
On the Inquiry’s compensation report publication, its chair, Sir Brian Langstaff, said: “It is an unusual step to publish recommendations about redress in advance of detailed findings, but I could not in conscience add to the decades-long delays many of you have already experienced due to failures to recognise the depth of your losses. Those delays have themselves been harmful.”

In the 365 days since, it is estimated that over 100 people have died without justice. The count of lost victims is well over 3,000. So what have we seen from the Government in the last year? They have rightly accepted the moral case for compensation but not acted. So far only those infected or their bereaved partners have received even an interim compensation – there is nothing for parents or children who experienced the ultimate loss, let alone full recognition for five-decades of injustice.

Despite the great oratory, the Government has been dragged kicking and screaming for every bit of updated information. Where are the practical improvements or even justice? This repeat behaviour surely must stop.

They have had their own Compensation Framework Study since March 2022. Not one but two interim reports from the Inquiry chair. The House of Commons has spoken, with Government backbenchers breaking the whip to encourage action. The Leader of the House and former Paymaster General, Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, has even described the Contaminated Blood Scandal as being on another level to the wrongs done to the postmasters. All eyes – not ears - are now on the Government. Everyone hopes we will be watching a Government minister set up the compensation scheme before we are watching the four-part drama that ITV has commissioned on the issue.
Rather than decisions around compensation being made behind closed doors by unnamed experts, the Paymaster General needs to expedite the work and be transparent and open about what is happening. This would help everyone.
Minister John Glen should commit now to making a detailed announcement on compensation on Tuesday 21 May, the day after the Inquiry’s final report is due to be published. If he does, the community will breathe a sigh of relieve. We stand available to help him, or his civil servants, to get this over the line.

The trauma for those both infected and affected never stops – it is just added to as time passes without justice and redress being delivered. As the Chief Executive of the leading HIV charity I see this trauma up close.

James (name changed to protect anonymity), who was infected as a teenager, described how the last twelve months has made him feel: “We are in this Stranger Things place. A dark world where all the monsters are. I cannot go back but I’m stopped from going forward. The Government have just left me here.”

We need the Government to do the right thing now. It’s not too late.

Richard Angell is Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust.