PEOPLE affected by the contaminated blood scandal ‘lost everything’ and ‘had to live on the breadline’ while many struggled to access financial support, it has emerged.
Sir Brian Langstaff, chairman of the public Infected Blood Inquiry into the issue, has written to the cabinet office to describe concerns conveyed to him about the financial support available to those affected or infected.
As previously reported in The News, thousands of people were infected with HIV or hepatitis C in the 1970s and 1980s after contaminated blood from the USA was used by the NHS for patients with haemophilia or those who needed a blood transfusion.
The scandal has left 2,400 people, including Sally Vickers from Landport, dead. She died last year from cancer caused by hepatitis C.
Chairman Sir Brian has called for the government to take ‘decisive action’ over the financial support available.
He draws attention to the current financial support schemes that see affected people paid widely varying amounts of financial assistance or having difficulty in accessing funds.
In his letter to cabinet office minister David Lidington, Sir Brian wrote: ‘You should be aware there were considerable concerns during the preliminary hearings about access to (and variations in) financial support, psychological support, and also concern that not everyone who was infected has been identified.
‘During the commemoration people were heard asking “where is the compassion?” and describing how they had “lost everything”, had to “live on the breadline” and “feel betrayed”.
‘Throughout the preliminary hearings there were repeated calls for financial assistance which fully recompenses individuals and families for the losses they have suffered.’
The inquiry will consider the treatment of victims, the impact this had on their families and if there has been any attempt to cover up the scandal.
The inquiry, which is expected to take at least two-and-a-half years, heard the number infected could go ‘far beyond 25,000’.