Infected blood compensation 'to be extended' to bereaved children of victims

The infected blood compensation scheme is to be extended to bereaved children who have lost one or two parents, Sky News understands.

This group has not been involved in the interim compensation scheme previously paid to victims of the scandal.

Tony Farrugia, who lost his haemophiliac father (and two uncles) to HIV/AIDs after being treated with infected blood products, described his meeting with the paymaster general John Glen on Wednesday as "emotional".

Mr Farrugia said this significant moment "wasn't just about the money but that his loss has finally been recognised".

He will now be able to apply to the compensation scheme after Sir Brian Langstaff's report is published on 20 May.

"On a personal level, I just want it to end now. I want to move forward with my life," Mr Farrugia said.

"To finally get that recognition that children will be recognised is massive and it will be really good to see the end of this."

"I'm pleased that I've been able to report back to my group that that we're moving forward on this. It's been a long time coming and several meetings over the past years have amounted to nothing. And today was very different."

Thousands of people died in the 1970s and 80s after infected blood products were imported from the United States to treat patients with blood clotting disorders. But these were used without being screened even though they had been farmed from prisoners, drug addicts and sex workers.

The Blood Inquiry which was announced in 2017 has seen evidence that shows these infected blood products were secretly tested on patients including young children even though the risks were widely known at the time.

A further 710 people have died since then and campaigners fear any more delays in awarding compensation will see more people dying before they get any money.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who served as health secretary between 2012 and 2018, told Sky News the scandal is "probably the worst […] I've come across in my entire time in government".

"This is utterly appalling," he said.

"And what this government wants is for justice to finally be done. And, you know, there will be an impact on public finances, but it won't have any impact on long-term public spending or long-term levels of taxation because this is a one-off payment."

Mr Hunt added: "We are committed to making that one-off payment. These families have waited far too long and we want to be the government who sorts this out once and for all."

John Glen, the cabinet minister responsible for the government's response to the Infected Blood Inquiry, on Wednesday began a series of meetings with campaigners representing infected and affected members of the community.

Other victims of the infected blood scandal have told Sky News they are also set to receive interim compensation payments ahead of full compensation in the Autumn.

Stuart McClean described his talks with Mr Glen at a meeting in Whitehall on Wednesday morning as "promising" and added "I think he's listened and I think he gets what we were saying to him.

"He's looking at trying to go for another interim payment. He's got to get that signed off. We don't know when. We don't know what it'll be. He said that he was looking at another interim payment."

Mr McClean is uncertain if the payments would be for all victims affected by the scandal or the timeline: "He didn't stipulate.

"But hopefully it is for both. And then hopefully compensation starts arriving October onwards. He said that he's working as fast as he can. Obviously he's got to take it to the chancellor and to the prime minister, but he is working as fast as he can."

Read more:
Infected Blood Inquiry: Victims and victims' families lobby Westminster for compensation
Rishi Sunak says government 'speeding up' compensation for infected blood victims

In October 2022, the Government made interim compensation payments to infected individuals and bereaved partners who were registered with any of the four UK infected blood support schemes.

The government has not announced any specific cohorts that will be included in any future compensation payments at this stage.

Mr McClean was infected with the potentially deadly Hepatitis C virus as an eight-year-old schoolboy after he was misdiagnosed as a haemophiliac. He was only told about his life threatening infection as an adult.

He said he asked the paymaster general not to make any government announcements on 20 May, the day Sir Langstaff's long awaited report into the greatest NHS treatment scandal in history will be published.

"Please give us a day on the 20th not to make any announcement. A sad day for the truth to come out and let the public hear the truth. But I think we're nearly there for justice," Mr McClean said.