Compensation announcement ‘another milestone’ for infected blood campaign

Victims of the infected blood scandal have raised concerns about the prospect of their monthly support payments ending when they receive compensation.

Ministers have made a string of announcements about compensation for those affected by the scandal – widely regarded as the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

Cabinet Office minister John Glen said he recognised the importance of existing infected blood support scheme payments, telling the Commons: “I want to provide reassurance to all those out there today that no immediate changes will be made to the support schemes.

Martin Reid has lived with life-long health impacts after being infected with hepatitis C as a child (PA)
Martin Reid has lived with life-long health impacts after being infected with hepatitis C as a child (PA)

“Payments will continue to be made at the same level until March 31 2025 and they will not be deducted from any of these compensation awards.

“From April 1 2025, any support scheme payments received will be counted towards a beneficiary’s final compensation award – this will ensure parity between support scheme beneficiaries regardless of whether they were the first or the last to have their compensation assessed by the Infected Blood Compensation Authority.

“We will ensure that no-one receives less in compensation than they would have received in support payments.”

But Martin Reid, who was infected with hepatitis C as a child while receiving treatment for his haemophilia, expressed concern over the remarks.

Mr Reid said ‘no-one should be worse off under the compensation scheme’ (Handout/PA)
Mr Reid said ‘no-one should be worse off under the compensation scheme’ (Handout/PA)

The father-of-two from Insch, Aberdeenshire, has been left with lasting effects from the virus, including anxiety and depression.

The 44-year-old told the PA news agency: “There will be some concern surrounding the the conflation of the on-going monthly support payments those who are eligible currently receive, including myself.

“This isn’t compensation and has never been labelled as such, but has provided many with security and a regular source of financial support to ensure bills can be paid and other day-to-day costs are taken care of, especially as many had to give up their careers and have dwindled their savings.

“It isn’t really compensation if all the UK Government are going to do is simply rebrand the current support payments as part of the wider compensation.

Infected Blood Inquiry
Former soldier Brendan West was given blood transfusions infected with Hepatitis C at a British military hospital in Germany (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“The support payments are what everyone eligible would have gotten anyway without any compensation scheme so the UK Government will have to provide total clarity and justifications if they are to merge the support payments with the compensation scheme.

“No matter what the compensation looks like, no-one should be worse off under the compensation scheme and at the moment, until John Glen can provide clarity, it feels like we may be in for a case of give with one hand and take away with the other.”

But Mr Reid hailed the compensation announcement as a “another big milestone on the road to justice” and welcomed the news that Sir Robert Francis has been appointed interim chair of the organisation.

He added: “The final compensation framework looks like, you know, how do you put a price on a life, how do you put a price on 40 years’ worth of mental anguish, torture, suffering?

“These things will be very complicated matters, but I sincerely hope John Glen and Sir Robert Francis get it right. Because really, for a lot of people, this is the very, very last time that they’ve got this opportunity to right a historic and horrendous wrong.”

Brendan West also welcomed the appointment of Sir Robert.

The former soldier lost his leg in 1979 and was given blood transfusions while at a British military hospital in Germany where his leg was amputated. Four decades later, he discovered that the blood he was given was infected with Hepatitis C.

The 63-year-old told PA that he thinks that Mr Glen “appears to be a man of action” so was encouraged by the news that people will receive their first full payments before the end of the year.

“I’m encouraged by Sir Robert Francis being on board, the publication of the names of the advisory committee and John Glen’s workman-like approach to getting stuff done, but time will tell.”

Infected Blood inquiry
Joanne Vincent was infected with hepatitis C when she received a blood transfusion after the birth of her daughter in 1988 (handout/PA)

Joanne Vincent, from Worthing, was one of hundreds of mothers infected with contaminated blood after giving birth.

She told PA: “They should have been ready to hit the ground running, they’ve had the compensation framework since last April.

“I feel confused as to what is been offered – £210,000 within 90 days – what if we don’t get a summer?”

Infected Blood inquiry
Amanda Patton said that ‘No amount of money can ever compensate for losing my brother’ (handout/PA)

Amanda Patton’s brother Simon Cummings was infected with HIV through his treatment for haemophilia and died in 1996, aged 38.

She told PA: “Broadly this is welcome, assuming the Government act as swiftly as they say.

“It’s hard to take them at their word when they have so far blocked any progress in compensation payments, so it’s too soon to feel much relief.

“No amount of money can ever compensate for losing my brother so there are very mixed emotions but if this next stage can be implemented soon then we can all begin to heal.”