PM urged to abandon ‘untenable’ compensation delay

Written by Jessica Bomford, October 18, 2023

The chairs of three UK national haemophilia charities have written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urging him to bring forward a decision on compensation for people infected and affected by contaminated blood products.

Clive Smith, Chair of the Haemophilia Society, Bill Wright, Chair of Haemophilia Scotland and Simon Hamilton, Chair of Haemophilia Northern Ireland wrote a joint letter to Mr Sunak, emphasising the anxiety and upset that the government is causing by refusing to respond to the Infected Blood Inquiry’s interim report on compensation. Read the letter in full here.

The report, published in April 2023, called for a compensation scheme to be set up immediately and begin its work this year. The government has not responded to this report, insisting that it will not do so until the inquiry publishes its final report. When Mr Sunak and his ministers appeared before the inquiry in July, they repeated this position, but at that time the report was due to be published in Autumn 2023, now it has been pushed back until March 2024.

The letter points out that as the government had been working to an Autumn timetable, it must have completed the work necessary to make a decision on compensation.

Messrs Smith, Wright and Hamilton tell Mr Sunak: ‘We urge you to rethink this untenable decision, which is causing so much uncertainty and upset to our community.’

They add: ‘In July, you came face to face with some of the people who have been infected, bereaved and damaged by contaminated blood and blood products. They came to the inquiry in search of hope, direction and commitment from your government and left empty handed.  It is not your government’s fault that this scandal has happened, but it is your government’s responsibility to put things right, and to do so quickly.’

The letter asks Mr Sunak to make a ‘positive response’ by 1 December, which coincides with World AIDS Day.

Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of the inquiry, has published two reports on compensation. The first recommended the payment of interim compensation for people already registered on a UK infected blood support scheme. This was accepted by the government and payments were made in October 2022. The second report sets out a series of recommendations of how compensation should be administered and who should be eligible. It has never received a substantive government response.

Many people affected by the contaminated blood scandal have not received any compensation, such as bereaved parents and children.