David Cameron unveils payouts for NHS contaminated blood victims at final PMQs
- Credit: PA WIRE
As one of his final acts as Prime Minister today David Cameron delivered the news victims of the NHS contaminated blood scandal have been expecting for months.
Last year the government announced a pot of money to help those affected by the scandal, which saw thousands of people across the country including victims from the local area infected with deadly hepatitis C (hep C) or HIV viruses from blood products used by the NHS up until 1991.
At his final Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) before his successor Theresa May takes over, Mr Cameron said: “I can today announce that we will spend the extra £125 million that we have identified.
“A much fairer and more comprehensive scheme will guarantee that all those infected will, for the first time, receive a regular annual payment.”
But some victims of the disaster have reacted furiously calling the proposed scheme “an insult”.
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The campaign group Tainted Blood said in a statement today: “The government’s consultation response has just come in and we’re thoroughly disgusted with it.”
The scheme will offer payments to victims based on the number of viruses they contracted and how seriously those viruses have affected their health.
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Those infected with hep C are divided into two groups, stage 1 or stage 2, with the second covering those with more severe health problems.
People infected with both HIV and hep C at stage 1 will lose around £4,000 a year compared to current payments, Tainted Blood claimed today.
But the news was more favourable for those with hep C stage 1 who were not previously eligible for payments and will be given £3,500 a year for the first time under the scheme.
The families of people who die due to hep C or HIV infections from contaminated blood products will be given a one-off payment of £10,000 at the time of death.
Campaigners have called the scheme “insulting and miserly” saying it compares unfavourably to arrangements for contaminated blood victims in Scotland.
David Cameron apologised last March for the saga which saw thousands of people infected with HIV and hepatitis C through blood and blood products used by the NHS before 1991.
He today repeated those words, saying: “Last year I apologised to the victims on behalf of the British government for something that should never have happened.
“Today I am proud to provide them with the support that they deserve.”
This newspaper ran a special investigation last year highlighting the plight of local victims of the scandal and their three-decade long fight for justice and a fair settlement from government.
What are the reforms to contaminated blood victim support that were announced:
-New annual payments of £3,500 for those infected with hepatitis C stage 1 without the need for individual assessments. This will rise to £4,500 in 2018/19.
- Continuation of current annual payments for those infected with severe hepatitis C (stage 2) or HIV of £15,500 from this year, rising to £18,500 in 2018/19.
- For those co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C stage 1, annual payments will be £18,500 in 2016/17 and 2017/18, rising to £22,500 in 2018/19.
- For those co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C stage 2, annual payments will be £30,500 in 2016/17 and 2017/18, rising to £36,500 in 2018/19.
- Continuation of the £50,000 lump sum payment for those infected with hepatitis C stage 1 who progress to stage 2.
- New hepatitis C entrants to the scheme will continue to receive a one-off £20,000 lump sum payment. New HIV entrants’ lump sums will also remain as now.
- The continuation of a discretionary scheme for infected and affected people, as well as ‘softer’ support with an increased budget from 2018/19.
- A one-off lump sum payment of £10,000 to all those who were the partner or spouse of a primary beneficiary when they passed away.
- All payments will continue to be ex-gratia, which means they are funded voluntarily by government.