Contaminated blood scandal: Lack of compensation slammed again after campaigners meet with Cabinet Office
PUBLISHED: 17:02 29 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:02 29 January 2020
Campaigners criticised the government's continuing refusal to pay compensation to those affected by the contaminated blood scandal.
It had been hoped in some quarters that a meeting on Tuesday with Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden MP would see compensation broached, but after the meeting campaigners said refusing to do so was "consigning people to death without some form of justice".
Jason Evans, from Factor 8 Campaign Group, said "Bearing in mind that one victim is dying every four days, we saw it prudent to seek from the government a commitment to begin working with us now, rather than after the Inquiry, on a framework for compensation similar to that which has existed in the Republic of Ireland for almost twenty years.
"By starting that work now, rather than after the Inquiry which is not now expected to report until mid-2022, we could have ensured that many hundreds of people were still alive to see some form of closure if and when liability is established or accepted.
Mark Ward, who now lives in Brighton but was treated for his severe haemophilia at the Royal Free during his youth, said: "This meeting today would have been a good opportunity to agree to settle the (concurrent, but currently stayed group litigation) and to start a serious discussion around compensation.
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"It is a terrible missed opportunity that will have a real impact on those affected's lives."
The scandal, saw thousands of patients - including many at the Royal Free Hospital's haemophilia centre in Hampstead - given batches of the blood clotting treatment Factor VIII which contained blood tainted with killer diseases including HIV and hepatitis C.
Although an independent public inquiry chaired by Sir Brian Langstaff into the scandal is ongoing, there is concern among campaigners that waiting until the projected date for its eventual recommendations - which might not be before 2022 - would entail hundreds continuing to suffer and even to die without seeing compensation paid.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "The infected blood scandal should never have happened and we established this inquiry so that all those who suffered can get the answers they deserve.
"Today ministers from the cabinet office and Department for Health and Social Care met with groups representing those infected and affected by this tragedy."
They added that ministers would look at where "rapid progress" could be made on issues raised by those attending the meeting.