Call for compensation scheme to apply to all who received contaminated blood

The law firm representing victims of what has been described as ‘the worst treatment disaster in the history of the National Health Service’ have welcomed media reports that the Government will make an official apology to former patients who received contaminated blood and subsequently contracted Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), during the Seventies and Eighties.

However, law firm Leigh Day, has joined their clients in calling for the existing compensation scheme to be revised after claims that it unlawfully discriminates by paying out based on the type of virus contracted from contaminated blood and not on how seriously the patient has suffered.

According to media reports, the official apology later today will follow the publication of the Penrose report, which was commissioned by the Scottish Parliament and will have far reaching consequences for both the UK and Scottish Governments.

Rosa Curling, a solicitor at Leigh Day, said “The payment scheme put in place by this and previous governments has added insult to the injury, we believe it is unlawful as it unjustifiably discriminates against some victims in favour of others, depending solely on the type of medical condition rather than the devastating effects of the contaminated blood”.

Leigh Day act for a large number of individuals who received contaminated NHS blood and subsequently contracted HCV.

These individuals were paid far less than victims in the same scandal who contracted HIV.

Ms Curling from the human rights team at Leigh Day added:

“Not only did the NHS let down HCV sufferers in the past, but it is letting them down today by short changing them as compared to HIV sufferers.

“Mr Cameron should not only apologise for the wrongs of the past but also the continuance of those wrongs in the present.

“He should give a firm commitment on behalf of the government that all sufferers from contaminated blood will be compensated on the basis of the seriousness of their infection with a potentially deadly infection and not according to its label”.

Leigh Day started legal proceedings against the Department of Health earlier this year, calling for a review to take place in relation to the existing compensation schemes set up by the government for those affected in England.

Three men are currently challenging the lawfulness of the existing payment schemes on the basis that it discriminates against them as HCV sufferers.

The men have demanded a meeting with Department of Health to discuss their claim and to obtain assurances that any remodeled payment scheme will compensate individuals based on the seriousness of their conditions and not solely based on whether they happened to contract HIV, HCV or both viruses.