Thousands of victims of the infected blood scandal will receive £100,000 interim payments in compensation “as soon as possible”, the government is set to announce.
The Infected Blood Inquiry was established to examine how thousands of patients in the UK were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.
There are believed to be more than 4,000 surviving victims from what has been labelled the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS, during which about 2,400 people died.
Sir Brian Langstaff, chairman of the inquiry, last month called for the compensation to be paid “without delay” to all infected blood victims and bereaved partners.
He said they should be offered interim compensation of no less than £100,000.
His demand was backed by three former health secretaries – Labour’s Andy Burnham and Tories Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock.
In a letter sent to Boris Johnson, they warned “already more than 400 people have died since the inquiry started”, with “some estimating that one infected person is dying every four days”.
The government will this week announce the interim payments will be made as soon as possible.
The money is expected to be used to fund immediate bills and care needs, with final recommendations on compensation to come when the inquiry concludes next year.
Kit Malthouse, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Steven Barclay, the health secretary, have been co-ordinating work across government on the issue, according to the Sunday Times.
A government source told the newspaper: “We know the thousands of people that fell victim to this scandal have suffered unimaginable pain.
“That is why on the back of Sir Brian Langstaff’s report a few weeks ago, ministers across government have been looking closely at how best to right this historic wrong.
“Given the heart-breaking position many victims find themselves in, there is a desire at the top of government to move this at pace so we can give those people clarity and assurance at the earliest opportunity.”
Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, who represents families and those affected by the scandal said Mr Langstaff’s report was a “welcome development” but compensation was long overdue.
“These immediate interim payments for some of the most vulnerable will, at last, provide some financial compensation that many of those suffering have been due for decades,” he said.
“Whilst coming too late for the thousands who have tragically passed away over the intervening years since they were infected, it is a welcome development for some of those still living with the dreadful repercussions of this avoidable treatment failure.
“We look forward to the day when all victims of this scandal are properly compensated for their suffering and for those whose decisions led to the ruining of countless innocent lives being held to account.”