Contaminated blood victims ‘left to beg for compensation’

Thousands were infected by contaminated NHS blood in the 70s and 80s

Thousands were infected by contaminated NHS blood in the 70s and 80s - Credit: Archant

An inquiry into what has been described as “the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS” has found many victims being left in poverty and reliant on a compensation scheme described as “the worst form of modern-begging”.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood last week published a critical report into the help provided to the thousands infected with Hepatitis C and HIV by contaminated blood during the 1970s and 80s.

Between 1970 and 1991, contaminated NHS blood products caused an estimated 32,718 people to be infected with hepatitis C virus in the course of medical treatment.

Between 1978 and 1985, more than 1,500 people were infected with the HIV virus in a similar way, most of whom were co-infected with hepatitis C as well.

Many haemophiliacs were infected at the Royal Free hospital’s unit and many have since died.

Based on a YouGov survey of those affected, the APPG’s report found the patchwork of trusts set up to assist victims were so “demeaning” that victims had been “reduced to tears” because of it.

It added: “The widows/widowers of those who had Hepatitis C and those with chronic Hepatitis C do not presently receive any ongoing payments whatsoever from the five trusts. Consequently many, though it is difficult to quantify, live in a state of poverty.”

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It went on to recommend to the Government that it rethink the compensation packages so as to provide “sufficient recompense to live a

comfortable life, rather than one just above the poverty line”.

The report was followed the next day by a debate in Parliament on a motion calling for the prime minister to look again at the plight of victims.

It saw a number of MPs speak out about the issue on behalf of victims.

It comes a month after the Ham&High reported on Philip Wellman, who contracted Hepatitis C after being given a blood transfusion by the NHS following a car accident.

Unable to work and being forced to sell his Hampstead home, the 68-year-old complained of having to spend Christmas in poverty after running out of money and being denied extra compensation.

Weeks later, he says his situation is now “even worse”, describing the help available as “disgraceful”.

In response to wider claims about the help available, the department of health said it was “looking carefully at what more could be done.”

A Scottish inquiry into the affair, authored by Lord Penrose, is expected to be published in March.