Letter to the Prime Minister June 2023
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing to you as the charities that work with, support and represent people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders and their families across the UK.
On behalf of our members infected and affected by contaminated blood and blood products, we are asking you today to authorise your ministers to accept, in full, the recommendations on compensation made by the Infected Blood Inquiry.
It is now almost three months since Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, published his report on compensation in which he recommended that a compensation scheme be set up now and begin its work this year. The compensation study that Sir Brian based his recommendation on has been in the hands of government for over a year and we would therefore have expected substantial work to have already been underway before the recommendations were made.
Instead, there has been no significant response to his report, other than assurances that work is happening behind the scenes. The people we represent have very little trust in government promises, after decades of being ignored and let down. They need to see tangible evidence that the government will honour the findings of the inquiry.
Last week this issue was debated in the House of Commons. MPs from all parties reflected the huge emotional, financial, and physical toll that this delay is causing to their constituents who have already been so badly damaged by the contaminated blood scandal.
MPs discussed how more than 500 people affected by the scandal are estimated to have died since the inquiry began in 2017, in addition to the thousands we have already lost. We cannot overstate this point: People are dying and there is no time to waste. Yet the Paymaster General, Jeremy Quin MP, revealed that government ‘has not made a final decision’ on compensation, despite acknowledging its moral responsibility on this issue.
Sir Brian’s latest report called for urgent action to address this and set out criteria for who should be eligible and how compensation could be calculated. His proposals are based on the Compensation and Redress Study conducted by Sir Robert Francis KC, which was commissioned by the Cabinet Office. The contents of Sir Robert’s report have been known to government for at least 18 months, which makes it difficult to understand the apparent lack of preparedness for Sir Brian’s compensation report.
This delay and lack of information is having a serious impact on people’s mental health and further undermining trust in a government that said it would pay compensation if the inquiry recommended it.
The intransience of government ministers has led the inquiry to take the unusual step of requesting more information and recalling ministers and civil servants to give evidence to the inquiry this month. You must ensure that your ministers cooperate fully with the inquiry.
As soon as Sir Brian’s compensation and redress report is accepted in full, your government will be able to appoint a chair to lead the arms-length administrative body, who can start recruiting panels to review applications, build processes for reviewing claims and ensure that the scheme is able to begin its work before the end of the year and pay fair compensation to all.
Thousands of people have shared their harrowing experiences with the public inquiry over the last four years, often at great personal expense, in the expectation that government would honour Sir Brian’s findings. At this eleventh hour, we call on you to demonstrate that government can be trusted to deliver justice by accepting Sir Brian’s recommendations in full and taking immediate steps to get compensation done now.
Clive Smith, Chair, the Haemophilia Society
Bill Wright, Chair, Haemophilia Scotland
Simon Hamilton Chair, Haemophilia NI