The Prime Minister has announced that the government will increase the funding available to those affected by the infected blood scandal.
Regular annual payments for some recipients, including bereaved spouses and partners, will increase from a total of £46 million to £75 million. Others are eligible for further financial support through means-tested payments.
The contaminated blood scandal started in the 1970s and 1980s as over 4,500 people with bleeding disorders were infected with HIV, Hepatitis B, C and blood-borne viruses through blood transfusions given by the NHS. Over 2,000 have since died.
Gosport MP, Caroline Dinenage, has been lobbying on behalf of victims and their families since shortly after first election as MP in 2010, having met constituents affected.
While victims were partially compensated, Caroline spoke of the injustice that families, partners and spouses were forced to bear the brunt of the tragedy with little support, financial or otherwise. Saying in a 2010 speech in the House of Commons:
“The tragedy of contaminated blood is undoubtedly one of the biggest medical disasters in the history of the NHS. It is important to establish how this medical catastrophe was allowed to happen, and to protect those whose lives were devastated as a result.
“No amount of money can bring back those who have suffered and died—their dead will remain dead, their losses will remain lost—but we can help them to shed the burden of injustice and regain financial security.”
Since the England Infected Blood Support Scheme, funding and support has been available for families, spouses and civil or long-term partners, as well as the victims themselves.
The increase in funding follows a meeting between Health Minister, Jackie Doyle Price, and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, David Lidington and the Infected Blood Inquiry Team who called for more financial support.
Speaking about the recent announcement, Caroline commented:
“This has been a long and painful journey for victims and their families, many of whom have sadly passed away while waiting for justice to be done.
“I have campaigned alongside local families and survivors for an adequate response from the Government, something that was lacking for so long. Those affected have felt rightly betrayed and disappointed by the establishments that are supposed to protect and support us.”
The Prime Minister said:
“The start of the inquiry today is a significant moment for those who have suffered so much for so long, as well as for those who campaigned and fought so hard to make it happen.
“I know this will be a difficult time for victims and their families ‒ but today will begin a journey which will be dedicated to getting to the truth of what happened and in delivering justice to everyone involved.
“I am pleased that today we are also confirming increased financial support for beneficiaries of the infected blood support scheme in England, from £46 million to £75 million, and making changes so more bereaved beneficiaries will be eligible for additional support.
“We have made these changes in response to those who asked us to look again at the support we give to those affected, and as Prime Minister I am determined that the government will continue to listen and to co-operate fully with the Inquiry.”
Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price said:
“We’ve always been clear that all those who have been affected by this tragedy should be supported by a fair and transparent support scheme that focuses on their welfare and long-term independence.
“We have continued to follow the Infected Blood Inquiry closely and have considered the issues raised at the initial hearings, and now we are demonstrating that we have listened by committing up to a further £30 million to the scheme.”