The Haemophilia Society has challenged the Welsh Government over why victims of the contaminated blood scandal infected in Wales receive the lowest level of financial support in the UK.
The Society has written to Health and Social Care Minister, Vaughan Gething, asking him to act urgently to close the “shocking” gap in support payments compared with victims in other parts of the UK.
Clive Smith, The Haemophilia Society’s chair of trustees, said: “Every victim of the contaminated blood scandal in the UK was infected as a result of treatment through the NHS. Yet, if you were infected in Wales, you receive thousands of pounds less in support every year than those infected in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. This is scandalous and the Welsh Government must act now to get rid of this shocking inequality.”
Compensation has never been paid, but some victims receive financial support through Infected Blood Support Schemes in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Each scheme pays different amounts but after Northern Ireland announced a major uplift in support on 28 August 2020, payments in Wales became the lowest in the UK.
Mr Smith said: “The contaminated blood scandal happened before devolution and we believe the Westminster government has a moral duty to help to close this gap. However, the governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland have managed to fund increases in financial support. People infected in Wales are being penalised because their government has failed to act.
“The infected blood community in Wales has experienced years of neglect and mistreatment by government. Losing out in this geographical lottery is yet another blow. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown government’s ability to act when it wants to – now is the time to give our community the support it deserves.”
About 5,000 people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders in the UK were infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses in the 1970s and 80s as a result of treatment with contaminated blood products. More than 3,000 people have since died. Many thousands more were infected through blood transfusions.
The Haemophilia Society, along with other campaigners, is working to achieve parity of all four support schemes, based on the payment levels in England but with improvements to provision for bereaved partners. The charity is also calling for financial support to be extended to bereaved parents and children.
Read Clive Smith’s letter to Vaughan Gething, Health and Social Care Minister, here.
Find out more about our campaign for fair funding across the UK here.