Contaminated blood during the 1980s

Date: Thu 14th October 2010

This week there is a debate in Parliament relating to those people who were infected with contaminated blood during the 1980s. The debate will push for an enquiry into contaminated blood to try and compensate haemophiliacs and others who were infected with Hepatitis C in the late 1970s and 1980s through their NHS treatment.  Over 4,800 people were affected.

Upwards of 1,200 people were also infected with HIV. Of those 1,200, more than 800 people have already died and hundreds more have died from Hepatitis C. In the 1970s and 1980s blood derivatives were sourced from within the UK and from the USA where donors were paid and in some cases, funded their drug habit through the payments. Blood was later found to be infected with Hepatitis C and HIV and thousands became infected. This problem arose partly because the UK was not self-sufficient in blood products.

Those people who were infected have suffered enormously. Life insurance is impossible to obtain and almost every month one of their number dies in the UK. Only a daily cocktail of drugs keeps these people alive.  They have been unable to have children and fear infecting their loved ones.

Understandably they claim that successive governments have failed to acknowledge any fault. Compensation has so far been limited to ‘ex gratia payments’. In 2009 an independent inquiry, chaired by former solicitor general Lord Archer of Sandwell, recommended that compensation be paid for victims but to date that level has not yet been determined.

It’s surely time that these people were given the support that has for too long eluded them.