UK inquiry urges immediate payouts to tainted-blood victims
LONDON (AP) — The head of an inquiry into a tainted-blood scandal that killed 2,400 people in Britain urged the government to pay survivors and bereaved partners at least 100,000 pounds ($120,000) each in compensation immediately.
The government said Saturday it would consider the recommendation “with the utmost urgency.”
Thousands of hemophiliacs and other hospital patients were infected with HIV or Hepatitis C during the 1970s and 80s through tainted blood products, largely imported from the United States. The situation has been called the worst treatment disaster in the history of Britain’s health care system.
Brian Langstaff, a retired judge who is chairing the inquiry, said Friday that payments to the more than 2,000 partners and survivors shouldn’t wait until his long-running probe is finished because of the “profound physical and mental suffering” caused by the tragedy.
The contaminated blood was linked to supplies of a clotting agent called Factor VIII, which British health services bought from the U.S. Some of the plasma used to make the blood products was traced to high-risk donors, including prison inmates, who were paid to give blood samples.
After years of campaigning by victims, an inquiry began in 2019. A final report is expected next year.
Three former U.K. health secretaries — Labour’s Andy Burnham and Conservatives Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock — urged the government to heed Langstaff’s recommendation.
“Successive governments, which I was part of one, didn’t act as quickly as they should have, and we need to recognize this as a terrible, terrible injustice,” Hunt said.