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£3.5bn compensation claims pay-out for patients given contaminated blood by NHS

£3.5bn compensation claims pay-out for patients given contaminated blood by NHS

Patients who were infected with life-threatening viruses in the 1970s and 1980s by the NHS could be entitled to medical negligence compensation that could reach £3.5bn.

A long-awaited Scottish public inquiry into the blood contamination scandal is set to be published and is expected to show that the Government continued to use commercial suppliers, who often sourced the blood from overseas, including the United States, despite safety warnings being raised.

Patients not told that they were infected

The report, undertaken by Lord Penrose, was commissioned in 2008 by Nicola Sturgeon, who was then Holyrood’s Health Secretary. It investigates the NHS blood contamination scandal that saw around 5,000 Britons infected with Hepatitis C, and many also infected with HIV, during the 1970s and 1980s.

The report is expected to show that around 530 Scots were infected with Hepatitis C, and at least 71 of those also infected with the HIV virus. While some patients were infected whilst undergoing blood transfusions, the majority of those affected were hemophiliacs who were receiving an experimental new treatment known as Factor VIII, a protein that was intended to assist with the clotting of blood. While appearing to improve the quality of life for many hemophiliacs, the batches of Factor VIII were imported by commercial suppliers from abroad. Each batch was made up of blood from hundreds – or even thousands – of donors, with the consequence that if just one person was infected with a virus, the whole batch would be contaminated.

It is thought that a significant amount of the blood was sourced from American “skid row” donors – groups of the population, such as prison inmates, who are statistically more likely to have either HIV or Hepatitis C. Despite safety warnings, it is alleged that the Government chose to continue to use such commercial suppliers.

The inquiry is expected to confirm that many patients were not told by NHS doctors that they had been infected. As patients were left unaware, it is thought they went on to unwittingly infect their partners and children. It is also thought that several witnesses gave evidence to the inquiry alleging that medics deliberately infected some people, so that the progression of the viruses could be monitored.

“Realistic” compensation for blood contamination should be a lump sum of £500,000 each

Although the inquiry cannot recommend levels of compensation, campaigners are hopeful that the findings will persuade the Government to increase the level of compensation available to those infected, from the £20,000 – £50,000 typically paid as a lump sum, with payments of up to £14,000 annually.

Further, whilst the report predominantly focuses on Scotland, Prime Minister David Cameron has recently stated that he is willing to offer “more help” for victims from across the United Kingdom.

A similar inquiry in the Republic of Ireland saw victims receive an average settlement of up to £600,000 each and campaign group Tainted Blood has now declared that a reasonable settlement would fall between £30,000 to £40,000 a year, on top of a lump sum of around £500,000.

Co-chair of Tainted Blood, Joe Peaty said such figures are sensible. He stated: "You can justify that in a number of ways – the damage caused, or even if you think for how many years the £40,000-a-year should have been paid."

He added “I think, if the government wants to do the moral thing, the right thing, then they will respond to Penrose in a very responsible way. That will prevent the need for people to go back to courts and argue for several years, with more people dying during that process."

It is also argued that, with it estimated that less than 200 of the Scots infected are alive today, the families of the deceased should be entitled to a share of the compensation.

HIV and Hepatitis C Blood Contamination Compensation Claims

You are entitled to expect a certain standard of treatment from those providing medical assistance to you. If this treatment falls below standard you may be entitled to recover the cost of the private medical treatment needed to correct the failings on the part of those originally treating you.

If you have concerns about the medical care that you have received, please contact one of our clinical negligence lawyers at IBB Solicitors. Our goal is to obtain justice for victims of the negligence by others, by securing compensation that reflects their pain and suffering, as well as related financial losses including loss of earnings, treatment costs and specialist care costs.

Please contact a member of our team on 01895 207835 or 01895 207295. Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the accident/clinical negligence and the injuries sustained to malcolm.underhill@ibblaw.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help you.