Lawyer for victims of infected blood scandal says they should be compensated fully and fairly as soon as possible as Sir Robert Francis gives evidence to the Infected Blood Inquiry today

A lawyer from JMW Solicitors, who is representing victims of the infected blood scandal, is attending the Infected Blood Inquiry today and tomorrow to hear Sir Robert Francis discuss his Infected Blood Compensation Study “Compensation and Redress for the Victims of Infected Blood – Recommendations for a Framework’ which was published in June.

Nicola Wainwright, partner and Head of Clinical Negligence (London), who is acting for a number of patients who developed hepatitis C and/or HIV as a result of receiving infected blood products said:

Sir Robert’s compensation study brings us as a step closer to achieving long-awaited compensation for those who contracted serious, life-changing infections as a result of receiving infected blood and blood products from the NHS.

Whilst, as Sir Robert says, his study contains compromises which our clients will want to consider if they would be willing to accept, and there is obviously still work to be done to make any scheme fair and a realistic alternative to litigation, we are pleased to see that his recommendations reflect at least some of the suggestions we and our clients made in our submissions to him. These include the need for compensation for the stigma, isolation and loss of a normal family life that our clients, and thousands of others, suffered and the suggestion that existing compensation schemes on which our clients rely for financial support should continue.

“Sir Robert also recommends an early interim payment of compensation should be considered whilst the amounts of any final award are decided. This is important given that many of our clients have already waited decades for proper compensation and many are worried that they may not survive to receive the award should it not be made for some years yet.

“With that in mind, we would urge the government to arrange those interim payments and put in place an effective publicly funded compensation scheme as soon as possible.”

In the 1970s, 1980s and 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, affecting their health and lives generally.

In his Study Sir Robert set out his recommendations for a compensation scheme for those injured as a result of receiving infected blood products and for their families. He argues that there is a moral case for compensation as a result of what he calls ‘a disastrous episode in the history of the NHS’:

“Although no government has, so far as I am aware, gone so far as to accept there is a legal liability for the tragedy experienced by the infected and affected, there has been a growing acceptance of a moral case for compensating this particular group. I suggest that there is in fact a strong moral and social justification for doing so, … In short, there are in my view compelling arguments for treating this group as a special case.” 

Nicola and her clients agree with Sir Robert that given their circumstances the government does have a moral obligation to them and a scheme should be set up so that they can receive the compensation they deserve without having to go through the courts.

The public inquiry into the scandal is ongoing and not expected to conclude until 2023.

The government response to Sir Robert’s Study and recommendations is awaited.


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