Rishi Sunak says government 'speeding up' compensation for infected blood victims

February 28, 2024

The prime minister has tried to assure victims of the infected blood scandal that his government is working to make compensation payments more quickly.

Rishi Sunak said ministers were amending legislation "with the intention of speeding up the implementation of our response to the Infected Blood inquiry".

He was responding to a question from Diana Johnson. The Labour MP from Hull has long campaigned for justice for the families affected by contaminated blood products used during NHS treatment in the 1970s and '80s.

As many as 6,000 people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders were treated with blood products contaminated with HIV and hepatitis viruses.

Almost all of them were infected with hepatitis C and around 1,250 people were also infected with HIV. It is regarded as the worst scandal in the history of the NHS.

The victims of the blood contamination scandal

Ms Johnson reminded the prime minister: "Another 80 victims of the contaminated blood scandal have died since Sir Brian Langstaff gave his final recommendations on compensation to the government in April 2023, 329 days ago".

Mr Sunak responded by saying he was "acutely aware of the strength of feeling on this issue and the suffering of all of those impacted by this dreadful scandal."

He added: "We've consistently acknowledged that justice should be delivered. I gave evidence to the public inquiry last year that government has accepted the moral case for compensation."

Listening to the exchange in the House of Commons public gallery were some of the families affected by the scandal and who had come to Westminster to protest against the delay in compensation payments.

They were given more support by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who stepped straight out of Prime Minister's Questions and into Westminster Hall to meet them.

Asked if he would resolve the compensation delays if Labour came to power, Sir Keir said "yes", but added he hoped the matter would be resolved before then.

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Claire Dixon, 52, from Manchester, lost her mother, Nora Worthington, in 1993. Mrs Worthington contracted HIV from infected blood during a transfusion in 1991, and died 18 months later.

"My mother was given three pints of blood for a perforated ulcer", Ms Dixon said, adding: "One of the pints was infected with HIV."

"Before she passed away, she said: 'Please don't let them get away with it'. She had little cuttings out of the paper and realised other people, like children, had become infected", Ms Dixon said.

As a single parent, Ms Worthington has not yet been recognised by the government for compensation.

Mrs Dixon said: "My mother didn't have a partner and her life has not been recognised.

"For me personally, it is about the recognition. It isn't about the money. No amount of money could ever bring my mother back. All the children who have been lost," Mrs Dixon said.

"The inquiry has been a really good process, but it has been absolutely heartbreaking for us as a family, having to watch other people like mothers and fathers who lost little children and still have no recognition from this government."

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