The chairman of a UK public inquiry into a long-running scandal over thousands infected with HIV and Hepatitis C through contaminated blood transfusions on Friday recommended immediate payouts to victims of at least £100,000.
The chairman of the Infected Blood Inquiry, Brian Langstaff, released a report saying that “an interim payment should be paid, without delay, to all those infected and all bereaved partners” of “no less than £100,000”.
The former High Court judge said that the “moral case for compensation is beyond doubt”.
The public inquiry formally began in 2018 to consider the treatment of thousands of people with haemophilia who contracted hepatitis C and HIV after receiving blood transfusions, mainly from the United States, through the state National Health Service (NHS) in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
Due to a shortage of blood products in Britain, the NHS bought much of its stock from US suppliers whose donors, including prisoners and other groups at high risk of infection, had been paid for their blood.
Langstaff on Friday also submitted his recommendations in a letter to senior government minister Michael Ellis, telling him the inquiry had heard of victims’ “profound physical and mental suffering”.
Lawyer Des Collins, representing numerous victims and associated groups, tweeted that the recommendation was “a welcome development” while “coming too late for the thousands who have tragically passed away over the intervening years since they were infected”.
The recommendation came after an independent report commissioned by the Cabinet Office released in June said that the government should accept that there was a “strong moral case for a publicly funded scheme” to compensate both those infected and their family members, too.
Its author, lawyer Robert Francis, said such payments were unlikely to be less than £100,000 and should not take into account any previous payments.
A previous inquiry concluded in 2009 found that ministers should have acted sooner to make British blood supplies more self-sufficient to lessen reliance on imports.
It also called for compensation for those impacted.
A 2017 High Court ruling permitted victims and their families to seek damages via the British justice system.