Positive meeting with Infected Blood Inquiry minister

Written by Jessica Bomford, May 7, 2024

Today representatives from the Haemophilia Society met with John Glen MP, the minister with responsibility for the Infected Blood Inquiry.

Kate Burt, our Chief Executive, and Clive Smith, our Chair, pictured above, raised issues of concern to our members with Mr Glen during their 40-minute meeting at the Cabinet Office. The minister provided updates on progress towards compensation for people infected and affected by contaminated blood and blood products.

The minister began by apologising on behalf of successive governments and expressed personal frustration that more progress has not been made.

Clive said: ‘This was a positive meeting and we left feeling cautiously optimistic that after four decades of denial and delay, government is ready to admit culpability for the failings that led to thousands of avoidable deaths from infected blood. The minister acknowledged some of the key concerns of the community, such as safeguarding regular support payments, and seemed genuine in his efforts to increase engagement with those infected and affected.

‘We remain frustrated at the lack of transparency over the way in which the government’s compensation scheme is being formed. It is vital that everything is done to ensure the system that emerges fairly reflects the loss and suffering that has been endured.’

On compensation, Mr Glen said:

  • The infected and affected will receive payments
  • The shadow Infected Blood Compensation Authority (IBCA) has begun work. He did not deny that its interim chief executive is David Foley, Director of Public Bodies at the Cabinet Office, as reported in the Sunday Times on 5 May
  • There will be a clear registration process for those not already registered
  • He has had ‘numerous’ meetings with Sir Robert Francis, the author of the government’s own report on creating a compensation framework, to find a way to translate his recommendations and that of the Infected Blood Inquiry into a working scheme
  • He has not spoken to Sir Brian Langstaff, chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, to maintain his and the government’s independence
  • The government’s panel of experts, which is advising on compensation tariffs, will consider the five impacts recommended by Sir Robert, which are: injury, social impact, autonomy, care needs and financial loss
  • Government had to reconcile the ‘spirit and recommendations’ of the inquiry’s report on compensation with ‘managing tax-payers’ resources’
  • If a general election was called, it should not derail the legislation containing the compensation scheme proposals as they have cross-party support
  • A workable compensation scheme has yet to be signed off by the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and collective agreement from the Cabinet. He said the deadline for this is before 20 May
  • He is aware of concern over the government’s definition of ‘chronic’ conditions. He said the working group is looking at definitions of ‘chronic’ and ‘acute’ in this context. Mr Glen noted that our community has received these infections on top of having a bleeding disorder
  • The ‘arms-length’ compensation body will not be completely independent of government because it is using taxpayers’ money.

Clive and Kate raised:

  • Urgent need to guarantee all regular support payments for life
  • The importance of Sir Robert Francis’ recommendation of a £10,000 uplift and support payments to be raised to 5% above the national average wage
  • The need to respect the community on 20 May by listening to the Infected Blood Inquiry’s recommendations, not deflecting attention by releasing new details on compensation
  • The need to learn the lessons from the demeaning treatment of the community by previous schemes
  • The need for clarity over the tax and benefit implications of the new compensation scheme
  • How much a compensation scheme might cost. Mr Glen said he believed the estimate of £10bn which was in the media recently might be lower than the final figure
  • The need for a High Court Judge or Court of Session Judge to oversee IBCA to guarantee independence and integrity
  • The need for community involvement in the appointment of the chair.

We are grateful for the chance to meet directly with Mr Glen and felt it was a useful exchange of information.

We are holding a webinar on Wednesday, 8 May at 6pm to discuss the latest developments on compensation and to look ahead to arrangements for the launch of the Infected Blood Inquiry’s final report on 20 May. Apart from an update on the meeting with Mr Glen, this webinar will be broadly the same as the one we held last week which unfortunately could not accommodate all the people who wished to attend. Details of how to join the meeting are here. We are still limited by a maximum capacity of 100 people, but we are looking for alternative hosting options for future webinars.

A reminder that we are holding an informal get-together on Sunday, 19 May, the eve of the launch of the Infected Blood Inquiry’s final report. The event takes place between 4-6pm at the church hall at St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate. Details of this and other support and information events are here.

Please contact us at [email protected] if you would like to comment or need more information.