Infected blood patients demand more compensation

Philip Dolan says that all those who contracted Hepatitis C through blood transfusions should receive the original recommended compensation. Picture: John Devlin
Philip Dolan says that all those who contracted Hepatitis C through blood transfusions should receive the original recommended compensation. Picture: John Devlin
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PATIENTS infected with Hepatitis C and HIV as a result of faulty NHS blood transfusions will this week urge the Scottish Government to deliver the compensation they believe they are due.

An event at the Scottish Parliament will see contaminated blood campaigners put pressure on ministers and MSPs by demanding more cash.

MSPs will be shown a moving film giving an insight into the damage caused to innocent lives by the contaminated blood scandal and will receive a report showing the impact infection has had on the lives of victims.

The reception hosted by the Scottish Infected Blood Forum will also see patients express their dissatisfaction at the amount of compensation they have received after a scandal described by the medical professor Lord Winston as the “worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS”.

Campaigners will call on Health Secretary Shona Robison to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament on compensating those who have been affected.

More than 2,000 Scottish patients are believed to have been victims of the scandal, which saw them infected with the life-threatening conditions hepatitis C and HIV through NHS blood products in the 1970s and 80s.

In 2003, Lord Ross chaired a group set up by the then Labour-led Scottish Executive to look at the scandal. Lord Ross recommended that victims receive £50,000 compensation each.

Since then, campaigners say most of them have only received £20,000 from a package announced more than a decade ago by the then Health minister Malcolm Chisholm.

Chisholm’s package, which was widely criticised for being too small, did include an extra payment of £25,000 to those whose conditions deteriorated to cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Campaigners are now saying that they should be given at least the full £50,000 recommended by Lord Ross, regardless of whether their condition has degenerated.

Philip Dolan of the Scottish Infected Blood Forum said: “What we are saying right along is that the Government should have implemented £50,000 to all people. When they were in opposition the SNP condemned the Labour Government for not doing that. Now they are in power and we are trying to remind them what they said.”

Since Lord Ross’s recommendations, the scandal has been examined by the Penrose inquiry, an investigation which cost at least £11.3 million and took six years to make the solitary recommendation to test patients who had a blood transfusion before September 1991 for hepatitis C.

Yesterday Robison said she had announced a review looking at improving compensation.

She said an “improved support package” would be announced by April.