Contaminated Blood Scandal MPs Vote

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On 4 December 2023, MPs voted to amend the Victims and Prisoners Bill requiring the Government to set up a body to administer compensation within three months of it becoming law.

The contaminated blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s resulted in over 4,500 people with haemophilia and bleeding disorders becoming infected with hepatitis and HIV through the use of contaminated blood products. A clotting agent called Factor VIII was introduced to help their blood clot. Even people without bleeding disorders were infected with hepatitis C as a consequence of contaminated blood transfusions following surgery or childbirth. Those initially infected had unknowingly passed the viruses onto partners.

As the UK was struggling with the demand for Factor VIII, supplies began to be imported from the US. Plasma was pooled from up to 40,000 donors who had sold their blood, such as prison inmates and drug users – high-risk groups of people for blood-borne viruses.

The UK inquiry was announced in July 2017 and evidence was gathered from January 2019. The discussion regarding financial compensation for victims and families of those who have lost their lives has been ongoing. It is understood that interim payments of £100,000 have been paid to 4,000 victims and bereaved partners so far.

The government has said there was a “moral case for the payment of compensation”, and preparations were being made, but it wanted to await the outcome of the inquiry. These findings are due to be delivered in March 2024.

Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson, said this is an “important step forward in what has been an extraordinarily long fight for justice”.

However, the speed at which compensation is provided is vital. It is estimated that one person affected by the blood scandal dies every four days.

It is hoped that the amendment will not be reversed when the bill goes to the Lords, and those affected can finally start to move forward with their lives and repair some of the harm caused.

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