Government u-turn on infected blood payments for families following shocking evidence at inquiry
- Credit: Archant
The government has reversed its decision not to support bereaved children and parents of the infected blood scandal, following the final testimonies at the Infected Blood Inquiry in London.
Historically, some support payments have been provided to those who were infected with Hepatitis C and/or HIV through blood products in the 1970s and 1980s but are still alive, the government has also provided some support to widows. However, until now the government has refused to support those who were bereaved as children and also parents who lost children.
Health minister Nadine Dorries wrote to the campaign group Factor 8 on October 8 stating that: "It would not be appropriate for the government to intervene at this stage".
However, following damning evidence provided by 189 witnesses at the Infected Blood Inquiry this year, the government dramatically changed its position on Monday.
A government spokesperson has now said it is "committed to guaranteeing equal support for all those affected across the UK". The comments were also read out at the inquiry by Sir Brian Langstaff, the chairman of the Infected Blood Inquiry.
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Tony Farrugia, from St Neots, who lost his father and two uncles to infected blood products, delivered a damning speech to the inquiry in its closing weeks, stating that the children of dead haemophiliacs had been treated appallingly.
"We have always been excluded from on-going support," he said.
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"The government has never taken into account the family turmoil that happened, how our families were torn apart. People broke up and got divorced."
Des Collins, senior partner of Collins Solicitors, which is representing more than 1,400 people in relation to the inquiry, said: "There has been a pattern to so many of the stories we have heard of misinformation, lack of information, withholding information and the covering-up of information. To see and hear first-hand, again and again, what the effect on the lives of all those affected has been, has been truly shocking."
Jason Evans who is the founder of the Factor 8 campaign group added: "We welcome the decision of the government to finally support all those affected in an equal way. It is shocking that for so long, parents who had to witness their children die from AIDS have received no support, along with those whose parents died. In some cases people lost both of their parents, yet receive no on-ongoing support whatsoever. This was an outrageous decision. Despite this u-turn by the government, they must now engage with us to establish a full compensation panel, similar to that which already exists in the Republic of Ireland, so that the full losses of everyone harmed by this scandal are recognised fully."
The Infected Blood Inquiry will resume its hearings in February, 2020. It is estimated that one victim of the scandal continues to die every four days.