Responding to the news from the Infected Blood Inquiry today that Sir Brian Langstaff and his team now expect to publish their Final Report in March 2024, rather than this autumn, Des Collins, Senior Partner of Collins Solicitors who represents some 1500 individuals and their families impacted by the infected blood scandal, comments:
“This is another devastating blow for our clients, although the delay is understandable for the reasons Sir Brian has outlined. We, of course, respect Sir Brian’s wishes to follow due process and produce a thorough and considered report, however, today’s news does beg the glaring question of whether the Government will continue to stick to its line of compensation after delivery of the Final report.
“Victims are dying at a rate of one in every four days so another 6 months plus will be too late for many and given this week’s announcement of a compensation scheme for wrongfully convicted Postmasters, ahead of the Final report into that scandal, it seems doubly unfair that infected blood victims are still being made to wait.*
“We call upon the Government to implement a proper compensation scheme for infected blood victims as soon as possible, as recommended by Sir Brian in April this year. If the Government fails to do so, we fully expect to be instructed by our clients to restore the Group Action against the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and ask that the question of compensation be referred back to the Court.”
*See Des Collins’ statement about the inconsistent treatment of infected blood victims and wrongfully convicted postmasters here: https://collinslaw.co.uk/post.php?s=2023-09-19-media-statement-date-19-september-2023-stark-contrast-between-government-response-to-post-office-horizon-victims-and-infected-blood
Bell Yard Communications: BellYard@bell-yard.com
Notes for editors
The Infected Blood Inquiry, chaired by Sir Brian Langstaff, is the UK’s largest ever statutory inquiry, established to investigate how men women and children were given infected blood and blood products by the NHS from the 1970s. Following an intervention by Sir Brian, the Government made interim payments of £100,00 last October to those victims of the infected blood scandal still alive and a small number of widows. This left other victims of the scandal such as orphans and relatives still in limbo. On 5th April 2023, Sir Brian published his Second Interim Report recommending that interim payments of £100,000 should be made in respect of deaths not yet recognised to “alleviate immediate suffering”. His report said: “These interim payments should be capable of being made through the support schemes after registration and of being achieved reasonably quickly. They can and should be achievable before the compensation scheme itself is operational.” There has been no official Government response to this to date. In answering questions in the House, Ministers have said the matter of a compensation for infected blood is complex and victims need to wait on details of a compensation scheme until after the Inquiry Final Report is published.