Matt Hancock says the Government will ‘of course’ pay compensation to the victims of the contaminated blood scandal if that is the recommendation of an ongoing public inquiry
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock today gave evidence to Infected Blood Inquiry
- Inquiry examining use of contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s
- The scandal saw thousands of NHS patients infected with HIV and hepatitis C
- Campaigners want ministers to commit to paying full compensation to victims
- Mr Hancock said compensation will ‘of course’ be paid if inquiry recommends it
Matt Hancock today said the Government will ‘of course’ pay compensation to the victims of the contaminated blood scandal if that is the recommendation of an ongoing public inquiry.
The Health Secretary said the Government will ‘respect’ the findings of the Infected Blood Inquiry and should the probe recommend compensation ‘then of course we will pay compensation’.
Mr Hancock’s comments to the inquiry this afternoon are likely to be welcomed by campaigners who have long called for compensation to be paid and for existing support payments to be increased.
The inquiry is examining how thousands of patients were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.
About 2,400 people died in what has been labelled the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.
Matt Hancock today said the Government will ‘of course’ pay compensation to the victims of the contaminated blood scandal if that is the recommendation of an ongoing public inquiry
It was announced yesterday that Sir Robert Francis QC had been appointed by the Government to carry out a study into options for a framework for compensation.
Mr Hancock was grilled on the financial support arrangements for victims and their families amid concerns that some have been unfairly excluded from the scheme.
Victims and families currently receive financial support but they have not been compensated for their losses, for example loss of earnings or care costs.
The Health Secretary said the current system was ‘set up as a support scheme’ rather than as a compensation scheme.
He continued: ‘But I have no doubt that this is something that the inquiry will look at and I would expect it to and I respect the process of the inquiry and I will respect its recommendations.
‘Should the inquiry’s recommendations point to compensation then of course we will pay compensation and Sir Robert Francis’s review on compensation is there in order that the Government will be able to respond quickly to that.
‘But it would be wrong to preempt the findings of the inquiry on that basis by me giving a policy recommendation in the middle of it.
‘So I think it is best, no matter where I would like this to go, what I would like to happen is that I would like the inquiry to explore all of these questions.
‘But what I can say to you is that we will respect the outcome of the inquiry and if the inquiry points to compensation, as opposed to a support scheme in the future, then the Government will pay compensation.’
The inquiry into the scandal was announced by ministers in 2017 after decades of campaigning by victims and and their families.
Mr Hancock agreed this afternoon that the Government has a moral responsibility to address the impact of the scandal on those affected.
The Government announced in March this year that affected families in England would now receive the same support payments as those in other parts of the UK and bereaved partners would automatically get a £10,000 lump sum.
But campaigners said some families have been excluded from the support scheme. The Government has previously conceded that full compensation could be paid to victims and their families.
The Infected Blood Inquiry is being led by former High Court judge Sir Brian Langstaff. Two previous inquiries have been branded a whitewash by campaigners.