MPs back blood scandal victims’ fight for fair deal in ‘biggest NHS treatment disaster’
- Credit: Archant
MPs have backed the fight for proper compensation and support for victims of one of the biggest treatment disasters in the history of the NHS.
During a backbench debate yesterday, MPs from all political parties called on the government to take seriously the concerns of those who were infected with killer viruses by the NHS.
Some 6,000 people, including victims from Newham and Barking and Dagenham, contracted HIV or hepatitis C from infected blood products used by the NHS up until 1991. More than 2,000 have so far lost their lives.
A government consultation is currently underway looking at how “unfit for purpose” systems of support for victims can be reformed.
But it has been widely criticised amid claims that most victims will be left financially worse-off under the changes and hundreds protested outside Parliament before the debate in a visible display of opposition yesterday.
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Backbench MPs called for the victims’ demands to be acknowledged.
Diana Johnson MP, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Haemophilia & Contaminated Blood, said: “We know that these people were damaged and harmed by the treatment they received from the NHS - by the state.
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“What we need to do now is put together a proper support package to ensure that those affected and their families are at the heart of what we do and whatever scheme is proposed.”
A large crowd of victims and families of the dead protested outside Parliament waving placards declaring “Sentenced to death” and “2,000 dead, who cares?”.
A hearse also circled Parliament Square to commemorate those who have already lost their lives.
Tony Farrugia, whose dad Barry, of Whitebarn Lane, Dagenham, and uncle Victor, of Brooks Avenue, East Ham, died from HIV after being infected with contaminated blood supplied by the NHS, called for better support and compensation for families.
“I want to see widows and dependent children included in any settlement the government comes up with,” said the 44-year-old, whose uncle David was also killed by blood infected with Hepatitis C.
“At the moment they’re saying a widow will get three times the payment her husband received when he died. My dad died before the scheme was set up so he got nothing. You can’t give someone three times nothing.”
Victims have also demanded an end to a complex system of charitable funds currently used to administer payouts and insisted that widows and children of the dead should be included in any settlement.
Health minister Jane Ellison said she was unable to comment on the consultation, which ends on Friday, while it was still in progress.
But she assured MPs that every single one of the 1,200 responses received so far would be individually read and considered.
“This is a genuinely open consultation and I urge everyone who is interested to respond. I hope to take things forward in an open and honest way,” she said.