Ex-health secretaries call for ‘urgent’ blood scandal payouts

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Sir Brian Langstaff, chairman of the ongoing infected blood public inquiry, recommended on Friday that provisional compensation of £100,000 should be paid to the 4,000-plus surviving victims as quickly as possible. He recommended the payments are made mid-inquiry in light of the “profound physical and mental suffering” caused by the scandal.

Yesterday, Andy Burnham, Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock stressed these payouts should be processed as soon as possible as many victims’ life expectancies had been dramatically shortened.

Thousands of people contracted HIV or hepatitis C in the 1970s and 80s after being given a new treatment called FACTORVIII or IX.

More than 2,400 have died as a result, and it has been estimated that one person affected by the scandal dies every four days.

At the time, the medication was imported from the US where it was made from the pooled blood plasma of thousands of paid donors, including some in high-risk groups, such as prisoners.

Labour’s Mr Burnham, who was health secretary from 2009 to 2010, said governments had not “been truthful about this matter because of the fear about the financial exposure”.

He claimed that successive health ministers had been misled by officials, adding there “may be a case for corporate manslaughter”.

Appealing to Boris Johnson, he said: “Please, Prime Minister, do this today.”

He told BBC Breakfast: “The Government has clung to a line for decades that nothing wrong was done, that they did everything they could, and it simply isn’t true. The risks were known and people were given the products anyway.

“I would even go as far as to say there may be a case for corporate manslaughter here.”

Mr Hunt, health secretary from 2012 to 2018, and Mr Hancock (2018-2021), said they believed the Government should make the payments as soon as practicable.

There are also 2,007 core participants in the inquiry who are infected or affected, and research is ongoing to reach estimates for the total number of survivors.

Des Collins, a lawyer representing families of some 1,500 claimants, said those eligible should be paid within 14 days and he would be stepping up pressure on the Government to do this tomorrow.

Yesterday, the Cabinet Office said it will act on compensation recommendations “with the utmost urgency”. It added that a copy of the inquiry’s report will be laid before MPs “once Parliament reconvenes” – in September.

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