UK Infected Blood Scandal Victims Demand Action as Death Toll Rises

UK government delays compensation for victims of contaminated blood scandal, despite Infected Blood Inquiry's recommendations. Campaigners plan Westminster demonstration, demanding urgent action as death toll rises.

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Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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UK Infected Blood Scandal Victims Demand Action as Death Toll Rises

UK Infected Blood Scandal Victims Demand Action as Death Toll Rises

In the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of patients in the UK were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products, including Factor VIII, imported from the US. Despite the Infected Blood Inquiry's final recommendations on compensation for victims and their loved ones in April 2023, the UK government has yet to take action, leaving many to die without justice or compensation.

Why this matters: This scandal highlights the importance of accountability in healthcare systems and the need for governments to take responsibility for their actions. The delayed response and lack of compensation for victims also underscore the need for transparency and urgency in addressing public health crises.

Thedeath toll, continues, to rise, with 82 victims dying since the inquiry's recommendations were made nearly a year ago. Campaigners are planning a demonstration in Westminster on February 28, 2024, to demand urgent action on compensation payments. The Infected Blood Inquiry is due to publish its final report in May 2024.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was heckled when he appeared before the inquiry last year, vowing to pay compensation as swiftly as possible. However, the government has been accused of dragging its feet over the issue. Richard Angell, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, stated, "There is no need to wait for the final blood inquiry report for the government to fund and legislate for compensation for those infected and affected."

Kate Burt, Chief Executive of the Haemophilia Society, expressed the community's frustration, saying, "It is sickening and cruel that five decades after our community was exposed to the horror of the contaminated blood scandal, we are still waiting for government to right that wrong and take responsibility for what happened." Rachel Halford, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, added, "Today's lobby reflects the community's profound frustration and distress after more than 50 years without justice. The Government's refusal to act is actively harming these people, people whose lives have already been devastated by infected blood."

A Government spokesperson responded, stating, "This was an appalling tragedy and our thoughts remain with all those impacted. We are clear that justice needs to be delivered for the victims and have already accepted the moral case for compensation." The government intends to respond in full to Sir Brian's recommendations for wider compensation following the publication of the inquiry's final report.

Controversy has also arisen over the appointment of Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery to advise the government on compensation. Campaigners have raised concerns about his role at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and his former membership of Bayer's bioethics council, as Bayer manufactured and supplied contaminated Factor VIII products to the UK during the 1980s.

As the death toll continues to rise and victims and their families await justice, the pressure mounts on the UK government to take swift and decisive action. The upcoming demonstration in Westminster and the final report from the Infected Blood Inquiry in May 2024 are set to be pivotal moments in the ongoing fight for compensation and accountability in this devastating scandal that has impacted thousands of lives over the past five decades.

Key Takeaways

  • Thousands in the UK were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • The Infected Blood Inquiry recommended compensation for victims in April 2023, but the UK government has yet to take action.
  • 82 victims have died since the inquiry's recommendations, with campaigners demanding urgent action on compensation payments.
  • The government has been accused of dragging its feet, with campaigners calling for swift action before the final report in May 2024.
  • A demonstration is planned in Westminster on February 28, 2024, to demand justice and compensation for victims and their families.