JMW welcomes first steps in consideration of scheme to compensate victims of the infected blood scandal

23rd June 2021 Clinical Negligence

I am pleased to see that steps are already being taken towards setting up a compensation scheme for those who were infected as a result of receiving contaminated blood or blood products here in the UK.

At JMW we act for a number of clients who were infected with Hepatitis C and HIV as a result of receiving infected blood products. 

In the 1970s, 1980s and even into the 1990s many people who required blood transfusions or blood products (such as Factor VIII used to treat haemophilia and other bleeding disorders) were given  blood infected with blood-borne viruses, including HIV and Hepatitis C.

Those infected and their families have been fighting for justice and appropriate compensation for years.  They are concerned that not enough care was taken when importing the blood from the USA to use for NHS patients here in the UK.  It is believed that the risk of infection was known and yet infected blood and products were still given to patients. Those patients were not told of the risk and, indeed, many were not told that they were likely to have been infected for many years. 

In 2018, an independent public statutory inquiry opened to examine the circumstances in which people in the UK were given infected blood and infected blood products by the NHS. It is ongoing and not expected to conclude until 2022, but it is hoped that finally after decades of waiting those infected and their families and loved ones will be closer to the truth.

However, whatever its’ findings the inquiry will not award compensation to them for what they have been through and so they face a further fight to seek damages for the devastating effect on their health and lives.

Many lives have been lost or irrevocably damaged by the diseases with which they were infected. They have all suffered the psychological effects and many have missed out on opportunities they would otherwise have had in their family and work lives.

When giving evidence to the inquiry the Minister for Health, Matt Hancock, publically indicated that the government will pay compensation if the inquiry recommends it.

In May 2021 the government set up an independent review to examine proposals for a compensation scheme and Sir Robert Francis QC was appointed to carry out this review. He has just announced that he is consulting on a study, which will be looking at the options for a framework for compensation.

We will be assisting our clients in responding to this consultation, which is open until 26 July 2021.

We hope that this will lead to a fair and effective scheme, which will enable our clients and those others who have been infected and affected to finally obtain the compensation that they deserve.

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Nicola Wainwright is a Partner and Head of London Clinical Negligence located in Londonin our Clinical Negligence department

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