Infected Blood Inquiry chairman calls on Government to 'take action' for those affected by scandal

People affected by the contaminated blood scandal "lost everything" and "had to live on the breadline" while many struggled to access financial support, it has emerged.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 17th October 2018, 3:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th October 2018, 3:58 pm
Preliminary hearings for the Infected Blood Inquiry were held in September. Picture: PA.
Preliminary hearings for the Infected Blood Inquiry were held in September. Picture: PA.

Sir Brian Langstaff, chairman of the public inquiry into the issue, has written to the Cabinet Office to describe concerns conveyed to him about the financial support available to those affected or infected.

Sir Brian has called for the Government to take "decisive action" over the financial support available.

He draws attention to the current financial support schemes that see affected people across the UK paid widely varying amounts of financial assistance or having difficulty in accessing funds.

Preliminary hearings for the inquiry were held in September.

Sir Brian said that there were "considerable concerns" raised during the hearings over the support for people affected by the scandal - which left at least 2,400 people dead.

In his letter to Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, Sir Brian wrote: "You should be aware that there were considerable concerns during the preliminary hearings about access to (and variations in) financial support, psychological support, and also concern that not everyone who was infected has been identified.

"During the Commemoration people were heard asking 'where is the compassion?' and describing how they had 'lost everything', had to 'live on the breadline' and 'feel betrayed'.

"Throughout the preliminary hearings there were repeated calls for financial assistance which fully recompenses individuals and families for the losses they have suffered.

"One of the legal representatives said: 'Recently there have been changes to the way in which these funds are administered, but any suggestion that this represents proper compensation for the hurt they have, they are and will continue to suffer, is met with anger and indignation.'

"Decisive action on this matter should be taken and communicated to those affected at the earliest opportunity."

A Government spokesman said: "The Infected Blood Inquiry is a priority for the government and we are committed to providing the Inquiry with all the support it needs to complete its work.

"The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office is considering the letter from Sir Brian carefully and will reply to his recommendations in due course."

The inquiry will consider the treatment of thousands of people in the 1970s and 1980s who were given blood products infected with hepatitis viruses and HIV, and the impact this had on their families.

It will also examine whether there has been any attempt to cover up the scandal.

The inquiry, which is expected to take at least two and a half years, heard the number infected could go "far beyond 25,000". It will continue next year.