Killer blood scandal victims call on government to keep its promises in spending review

Timetable for settlement on NHS scandal has slipped yet again say campaigners - as they wait to see if cash is allocated in chancellor’s autumn spending review

Victims whose lives have been torn apart by a health scandal have called on the government to deliver on its pre-election promise to make amends for decades of suffering.

Colette Wintle, Bruce Norval, Maria Fletcher and Mark Ward were treated with blood factor products at the Royal Free or University College Hospitals and each injection exposed them to a range of killer viruses.

They were among 7,500 people with the blood clotting disorder haemophilia who contracted hepatitis C (hep C) or HIV, or both, after being treated with contaminated blood in the 1970s and ‘80s. 2,000 are now dead.

It followed a deadly oversight in which blood taken from high-risk donors, such as drug addicts and prisoners, was used by the NHS.

In March this year the prime minister apologised on behalf of the British government and promised to release £25million financial support for victims immediately, and to increase that after the general election in May.

But the £25million has not been forthcoming and in July the government delayed further decisions until after the autumn spending review on November 25.

Blood scandal campaigners say the timetable has “slipped drastically” and a final settlement proposal is now unlikely to be on the table before next April.

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Glenn Wilkinson, of Contaminated Blood Campaign, said: “We feel grossly let down by David Cameron and by the Department of Health.

“We have been led to believe that this is going to be sorted out once and for all by both parties and neither has held to their commitment and that is absolutely unacceptable by any standards.”

The Ham&High highlighted the many ways victims and their families have been let down by successive governments over three decades in a special report in June.

The health of those infected has been ruined and many have died.

Highgate mother Della Hirsch lost her son Nick to hep C contracted from the killer blood in 2012. He was just 36-years-old.

Former Crouch End resident Clair Walton is an HIV-infected widow having caught the virus from her late husband who died from Aids in 1985 aged 34.

Campaign groups say they are frustrated settlement negotiations are still at early stages.

They also fear some key groups, such as children of those who have died and some infected with hep C, may be left out if any future settlement follows draft proposals already laid out in Scotland.

Joseph Peaty, co-chair of campaign group Tainted Blood, said: “It’s astonishing and outrageous really that this isn’t in the pipeline and ready to go when the government knew they had to do this.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Reforming the current payment schemes for those affected remains a priority - we are absolutely determined to get this right and will finalise proposals after a full public consultation, which will be publicly announced after the spending review.”