Infected blood scandal: Interim chair of new compensation body named

Victims set for interim payments of £210K and full settlements of up to £2.735m, according to documents
Contaminated blood protest outside the Cabinet Office in December. Photo: Ian Davidson/Alamy

By Jim Dunton

22 May 2024

The Cabinet Office has appointed barrister Sir Robert Francis as interim chairman of the new arm's-length body being set up to pay compensation to victims of the infected blood scandal.

Francis – who chaired the public inquiry into high mortality rates at Stafford Hospital, which reported in 2013 – will chair the new Infected Blood Compensation Authority, delivering payments for people infected and others who were impacted by the failings.

Two years ago, he produced a compensation framework setting out recommendations for payments to individuals infected by contaminated blood across the UK and others affected, such as their partners, children or parents.

Cabinet Office minister John Glen confirmed Francis's appointment to MPs yesterday afternoon following the final report of the Infected Blood Inquiry, which was published two days ago.

That report probed National Health Service and government failings dating back to the 1970s that saw around 30,000 people receive contaminated blood that infected them with HIV, hepatitis C or hepatitis B – and in some cases a combination.

Some 3,000 lives have been lost as a result of the infections, with living victims at greater risk of diseases such as liver cancer as a result.

Addressing MPs in parliament yesterday, Glen said Francis's appointment will ensure that the new compensation scheme is "credible and trusted by the community".

He also said that interim payments of £210,000 for infected victims will be made before the end of this year.

A summary of the proposed compensation scheme for victims published by the Cabinet Office yesterday indicates that payments of up to £2.735m will be available to people with co-infections as a result of the scandal.

One example of a co-infection would be someone who is HIV positive and infected with hepatitis C because of treatment with blood supplied by the NHS.

Francis will spend the coming weeks seeking views of scandal victims before the compensation scheme is set out in regulations, to ensure it is "fit for purpose".

Francis said he is "humbled" to have been asked to chair the compensation authority, which is currently in shadow form, on an interim basis.

"Having witnessed the depth of victims’ suffering as I compiled my report on the compensation framework, I know the urgency of providing them with the remedies they are entitled to as soon as is practicable," he said.

"I will ensure that the shadow authority obtains the community’s views urgently and I will update on plans for doing so shortly.

"The government’s proposals for the scheme are positive and meaningful  and I look forward to discussing them with the community through a validation exercise which the minister and I have agreed will take place.

"We must ensure that the scheme is designed to determine and pay entitlements to compensation without compounding people’s suffering further."

Other compensation schemes for victims of the infected blood scandal are already up and running.

In summer 2022, the government announced it would make interim payments of £100,000 each for victims.

The Whole of Government Accounts for 2021-22, which was published in March this year, said the £100,000 payments were expected to require expenditure of "approximately £400m" from the Department of Health and Social Care in 2022-23.

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