The government has allocated up to £130 million to the NHS in order to pay the injury claims suffered by those patients who tested positive for hepatitis C following their treatment with tainted blood.
After receiving blood transfusions from high risk donors more than 4,600 patients were exposed to infection more than three decades ago. Part of the payout has been earmarked to go towards personal injury compensation for around 1,200 people who contracted HIV as well. The source blood for many of the transfusions originated from such dubious donors as inmates from prisons.
Health Secretary Andrey Lansley described the series of incidents as some of the greatest tragedies to ever occur in the history of modern healthcare in a statement to Parliament. Mr Lansley also stated that the payouts were delayed while an independent accident claim review was conducted for the purposes of calculating the appropriate level of compensation.
Mr Lansley remarked that the distress and pain that the individuals who were infected – and their families – cannot be removed by any amount of compensation. Despite this he hoped that the new measures will bring at least some consolation, some closure, and some comfort for the many thousands that were affected by the tainted blood.
The current compensation for chronic hepatitis C patients is a £20,000 lump sum payment for eligible patients. Those whose conditions worsen and result in the development of cancer or cirrhosis can also become entitled to a second stage of payment, amounting to £25,000.
Patients with serious liver conditions will find their lump sum doubled to £50,000 by the government. They may also find themselves eligible for an additional £12,800 in compensation as well.
A £300,000 fund has been set aside to provide counseling to those suffering from these ailments for the next three years. Additionally those patients who became infected will also be eligible for free prescription medication as well.