Infected blood scandal victim says compensation payments should also go to relatives while bereaved son blasts Government for letting families learn of payouts through the media
- Tainted-blood scandal victims will be compensated £100,000 by end of October
- But parents and children of those victims who died will not be included as of yet
- Up to 30,000 Brits were infected in the 70s and 80s and some 3,000 have died
- The blood scandal has been called ‘the worst treatment disaster in NHS history’
Campaigners involved with the infected blood scandal have called for the families of those who died to also receive compensation as a bereaved son hit out at the Government for a lack of communication.
Thousands of survivors of the infected blood scandal will receive interim compensation payments of £100,000, the Government announced on Wednesday.
Bereaved spouses and partners registered on the scheme will also receive the payments.
But the parents and children of victims who lost their lives will not receive compensation as part of Wednesday’s announcement, drawing criticism from campaigners.
The scandal caused an estimated 2,400 deaths of patients infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.
Final recommendations from a public inquiry on compensation for a wider group of people – such as bereaved parents and the children of victims – are expected when the inquiry concludes next year.
Jason Evans, who lost his father to the infected blood scandal, has slammed the Government after he learned about the latest compensation announcement from a press release
Pictured: Jason Evans as a young boy with father Jonathan who died in 1993 after being given HIV-infected products. Jason has said children of victims should be included in compensation
Jason Evans, whose father Jonathan died in 1993, will not receive any compensation as the child of a victim, BBC Breakfast was told.
He said it was a ‘big step forward for some but for the majority, another day of upset’.
He said: ‘I think the most important thing is the Government are held to account on that, because I saw the press release that they put out last night and it, in parts, reads very much like they are trying to convince the media and the public that these payments are going to all victims and families, when we know mostly that’s not the case.
‘I also think there’s something to be said for the fact that this announcement was done by way of an Embargoed press release – why aren’t victims and families finding out about these things first?’
Asked if he found out about the interim compensation through the media rather than direct contact, he added: ‘Absolutely, and that is the case for all victims and families finding out this news today.’
Michelle Tolley was infected with hepatitis C when she received blood transfusions after the birth of her child in 1987, but did not find out until 2015.
Michelle Tolley was infected with hepatitis C when she received blood transfusions after the birth of her child in 1987 but did not find out until 2015. She says while compensation for survivors is positive, she said the ‘next step’ was to include families of those who lost their lives
She also said ‘the next step’ was to include relatives of those who lost their lives, adding that victims of the contaminated blood scandal were ‘given a death sentence without committing any crimes’.
She told Sky News: ‘I would like to pay tribute to all of the victims contaminated by blood transfusion and bloods products who tragically, through no fault of their own, haven’t lived long enough to be here to hear about these interim payments.
‘It’s about recognition of people whose lives have been destroyed’
Sue Threakall, widow of Bob Threakall, giving evidence at an independent public inquiry
A former deputy headteacher whose husband died after contracting HIV from contaminated blood said she will continue to campaign for those left out of Wednesday’s compensation announcement.
Sue Threakall’s husband, Bob Threakall, died in Birmingham in February 1991, aged 47, having suffered a marked deterioration in his health after being treated with the contaminated blood product Factor VIII.
Mr Threakall, a father-of-three, had been a haemophiliac since birth, and contracted hepatitis B in 1981, and then HIV in 1985 – although his family said the extent of his illness was largely trivialised by medics at the time.
Mrs Threakall, who now lives near Barnstaple in North Devon, is one of the people affected by the scandal eligible for the first wave of compensation.
But she said: ‘There have been two tragedies – the tragedy of the fact that so many people in the population were exposed to these life-limiting viruses, and that we have had to fight tooth and nail for every tiny concession.
‘This is not just about money – it’s about recognition of people whose lives have been destroyed, young adults have grown up their whole life without their parents and they have not been recognised, and parents whose young children died in their arms.
‘We’ve always said there will always be families out there who don’t know what they are eligible to claim. Their lives could have been so much better supported.’
Mrs Threakall said some people had attempted to make campaigners ‘look like money-grabbing scroungers’, but said any compensation did not make up for decades of lost earnings, let alone the time missed with loved ones.
‘The next step is to include parents who lost their children, children who lost their parents, those whose medical records have been lost and for those infected post-1991.’
Baroness Juliam Cumberlege, Chair of the Independence Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review welcomed the announcement but said it needed to go further.
She said: ‘This is also the time to think about others who have suffered avoidable harm through no fault of their own.’
She called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ‘acknowledge the need for justice and recognition of the suffering of these individuals and families’.
In a statement, she added: ‘I call on our next Prime Minister to put redress schemes in place so that we start to provide those who suffered so much the support they need and deserve.’
Rosemary Calder, whose 25-year-old son Nicky died in 1999 with HIV after being given an infected blood product to treat haemophilia, said the wait continues for the bereaved families.
Mrs Calder, 74, whose family moved from north London to Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire after her son was called ‘Aids boy’ at school, said: ‘Again, parents and children who have lost loved ones are just ignored.
‘The parents feel so disheartened and despondent that they can’t get recognition.
‘It’s not about money, it’s about the lives of their children.
‘So many parents suffered financially because they had to give up work, had to move house because of all the stigma, people lost their jobs – that has never been acknowledged.
‘I think it (the interim compensation) is a step in the right direction but there’s a long way to go.’
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Kit Malthouse said on Tuesday: ‘Those affected by the infected blood scandal have suffered terribly over many years and that heart-breaking and unimaginable pain has been compounded by the financial uncertainty many have faced.
‘These interim payments will start the process of securing that certainty. My priority is to get the money to those people as quickly as possible.
‘Of course, no amount of money will compensate for the turmoil victims and their loved ones have faced, but I hope these payments help to show that we are on their side and will do everything in our power to support them.’
Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted the money to be paid to victims and their surviving partners, he said: ‘While nothing can make up for the pain and suffering endured by those affected by this tragic injustice, we are taking action to do right by victims and those who have tragically lost their partners by making sure they receive these interim payments as quickly as possible.
‘We will continue to stand by all those impacted by this horrific tragedy, and I want to personally pay tribute to all those who have so determinedly fought for justice.’
Bob Threakall’s wife campaigned for years for justice after her husband died aged 47 in 1991 after contracting HIV from contaminated blood
Lauren Palmer was orphaned in 1993 when her mother Barbara (pictured together) and father died with HIV, eight days apart
Orphan, aged nine, lost both her parents to HIV eight days apart
Lauren Palmer, 39, lost both her parents to the contaminated blood scandal when she was nine
A woman whose parents died with HIV eight days apart has vowed to continue campaigning until all those affected by the infected blood scandal have been compensated.
Lauren Palmer was just nine when she was orphaned after her parents, Stephen and Barbara Palmer, died with HIV and Hepatitis C in August 1993.
Mr Palmer was a severe haemophiliac and received the blood clotting product Factor VIII in about 1979, unaware that it was contaminated.
He subsequently tested positive for HIV and went on to infect his wife after dismissing medical advice to wear a condom during sex.
Ms Palmer said the Government’s announcement on Wednesday was ‘a step forward’, but said there were many other families who were excluded from the payments.
Ms Palmer, a make-up artist currently studying for a forensic science degree in Bristol, said: ‘This was all so avoidable, and then people went to great lengths to conceal the problem and not tell patients how serious it was.
‘Everything from the start was just wrong. I don’t feel anger (over the scandal), as such, because I don’t want it to eat me up.
‘It’s more about getting that acknowledgement that everybody deserves.
‘I am doing this because it feels like a duty. I don’t want them to get away with this.
‘It’s been a long time getting to this stage. It (compensation) is a step in the right direction.
‘There are still a lot of bereaved families excluded, so there is more work for us to do until those families are included.
‘It’s about recognition.’
Ms Palmer, 39, said the death of her parents ‘was devastating’, as she was then separated from her half-brothers and sent to live with another family, enduring a miserable childhood.
‘It didn’t feel real at the time,’ she said.
‘I think when you’re that age, you don’t understand or comprehend what’s going on.
‘It didn’t hit me until a few years later. Everything in my life changed so dramatically, the upheaval was awful.
‘I remember thinking nothing is going to be the same again.
‘It was devastating.’
Most of those involved had the blood-clotting disorder haemophilia and relied on regular injections of the US product Factor VIII to survive.
They were unaware they were receiving contaminated Factor VIII from people who were paid to donate, including prisoners and drug addicts.
Patients were given the product for years despite repeated warnings at the top of government.
New cases of HIV and hepatitis continued to be diagnosed decades after the first contaminations, resulting in many early deaths.
Campaigner Sue Threakall, whose husband Bob died aged 47 in 1991 after contracting HIV from contaminated blood, said: ‘This is not just about money – it’s about recognition of people whose lives have been destroyed, young adults have grown up their whole life without their parents and they have not been recognised, and parents whose young children died in their arms.
‘We’ve always said there will always be families out there who don’t know what they are eligible to claim. Their lives could have been so much better supported.’
Mark Fox, 44, who contracted Hepatitis C after being treated with a contaminated blood product for haemophilia as a child, said the announcement was important because it represented an acknowledgement of wrongdoing.
The former cosmetic technician from Seaham in County Durham, who is among those due to receive compensation, said: ‘It’s not about compensation, it’s about someone saying sorry.
‘It’s that they tried to hide it, and so many people tried to brush it under the carpet – if you mucked up, have the balls to accept it. Grow up, be an adult.
‘Compensation will help so many people. Fortunately I’m not dead yet – I don’t know how long I’ve got, but some kids have lost their mams and dads, so I am pleased there is this recognition.’
The inquiry, which was announced by then-prime minister Theresa May in 2017 and began the following year, has taken evidence from more than 5,000 witnesses during hearings across all four nations of the UK. It is due to conclude next year.
It featured harrowing evidence from patients and their families who described being kept in the dark about the risk of HIV infection among haemophiliac patients, having to keep their diagnoses private through fear of vilification at the time of the Aids crisis, and living with the physical effects of HIV.
Others accused the Government of an ‘industrial-scale cover-up’ amid allegations of inappropriate treatment given to patients, tests being done on people without their knowledge, and the results being withheld for several years.
Kate Burt, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society, said: ‘Finally, after nearly five decades, the Government has accepted it must pay compensation to those infected as a result of the contaminated blood scandal.
‘This is a significant development. However, the majority of the bereaved – including parents and the children of those who died – will receive nothing.
‘Steps must be taken now to set up a workable scheme which can deliver full compensation quickly and fairly to all those who suffered devastating loss because of this NHS treatment disaster.’
Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, which represents some of the families affected, said many had ‘yet again been ignored’ in Wednesday’s Government announcement.
He said: ‘This is welcome news for those still with us whose lives and health have been blighted by the infected blood scandal. Many of them can’t work and desperately need funds to survive. It is also an important sign that the wheels of justice are beginning to turn in favour of those impacted by this terrible scandal.
Rosemary Calder, 74, from Sywell in Northamptonshire, attended many of the hearings of the Infected Blood Inquiry following the death of her 25-year-old son Nicky in 1999 (right, aged 11)
Mark Fox, 44, from Seaham in County Durham, who was infected with contaminated blood while being treated for haemophilia as a child
‘However, this commitment is far from the end of the story. These are interim payments but they by no means represent anything like meaningful compensation for those who continue to suffer day in, day out from the dreadful failures on the part of the Department of Health back in the 70s and 80s.
‘Nor do today’s promised payments give any recognition whatsoever or otherwise benefit those affected more widely – those who lost children, parents and loved ones, those who cared for victims sadly no longer with us, and those whose families were devastated by tragedy at the hands of the Department of Health.
‘These people too have fought for decades for recompense and can take little comfort in the announcement today. Yet again, without reason, it seems they must wait.
‘The fight has to go on for full and proper compensation for all those who have suffered and who have yet again been ignored in today’s announcement.
‘Given the lack of mention of (bereaved parents and children) in today’s announcement, yet again it is as if these victims do not exist.’
Jason Evans, Founder of Factor 8, a non-profit group campaigning for victims of the scandal and their families, said: ‘The PM has said today that ‘we will continue to stand by all those impacted by this horrific tragedy’, but they are doing nothing to help most families. It’s yet another scandal within the scandal.
‘Likewise, Steve Barclay tells us today that ‘work is under way to ensure those impacted by this tragedy receive the support they rightly deserve’, and the message today is that for most families what they deserve right now is nothing.’
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