Contaminated blood victims and families could finally get compensation
According to The Times, victims of the contaminated blood scandal and their families could get closure after decades campaigning.
Government ministers are reportedly drawing up plans for compensation for those affected which campaigners view as an admission of liability.
It has been called the ‘biggest treatment disaster in NHS history’: 5,000 people are believed to have been infected with estimates putting the number at 30,000 with 3,000 deaths linked to contaminated blood.
However, no formal announcement has been made and one woman has spoken of her continuing fight for justice.
Wigan councillor Paula Wakefield lost her father Russell Carbery who died aged 39 following treatment with contaminated blood.
Paula was just 13 at the time and her brother, Stuart, was 10 years old.
Russell had haemophilia and a treatment intended to save his life instead caused him to contract HIV in the early 1980s and then hepatitis B and C.
“This leaves myself and the community wondering whether this will actually happen.
“If this does happen then it will be the first time that the government has admitted any kind of liability for the scandal.
“Up until this point they have always said that nothing could have been done to prevent it and I believe the inquiry has proven that to be incorrect.
“We knew this all along.”
Her father’s infections and death affected most aspects of the family’s life, from income to their education.
Paula’s father lost his life insurance and the family moved to council accommodation when they could no longer afford a mortgage.
“This has been going on for over 30 years: I remember going down to Westminster when my dad was still alive and it was going on then.
“People’s lives have been on hold for all this time.”
Paula learned her parents received death threats due to the stigma surrounding HIV at the time and parents at Paula’s school requested that the siblings be removed following Russell’s diagnosis.
“Not only was what happened traumatising, but these people, some of whom are seriously unwell, have had to keep on battling,” Paula said.
“The families that have been left behind have also been battling and living it over and over again to try to get justice.”
Paula says that, until the government announces plans for compensation, ‘people are left dangling, not knowing’ and she hopes the announcement is made before the Easter recess.
She said: “Is this good news or is this just another blow along the road of many blows?
“I’ve learnt to not get too excited and hold my breath.”
The Haemophilia Society’s chair, Clive Smith, said: “Victims of the contaminated blood scandal have been waiting almost 40 years for any government to acknowledge liability and offer compensation for the devastation and loss that this NHS treatment disaster caused.
"We hope this Government will finally do the right thing and give victims of the contaminated blood scandal and their families the compensation which they have fought so long for.
"Nothing can make up for the loss of a loved one, but compensation will ensure that those who have survived, and their families, can live with a degree of dignity and recognition of their loss.”
Patients were infected in the 1970s and 1980s after being given blood for conditions such as haemophilia, which affects how blood clots and can lead to prolonged bleeding after injury.
The blood products contained a clotting agent known as Factor VIII which had been imported from the US and was later found to be contaminated with HIV and hepatitis viruses.
The Infected Blood Inquiry was established in 2018 following an announcement by then Prime Minister Teresa May in 2017.
Other countries affected by the scandal, including the US and Ireland, have paid compensation to victims but this has not happened in the UK with victims receiving limited financial support.
Jason Evans, founder of non-profit advocacy organisation ‘Factor 8’, said: “We hope that reports coming out of The Times signal the beginning of the end in the fight for recompense."
“We will continue to work with our legal team at Collins Solicitors, and The Infected Blood Inquiry and look forward to a further statement from the government.”