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Blood Scandal: Britain’s $12.7 Billion Compensation Pledge

by Violet Dawson
0 comment

Around 30,000 people were given the contaminated blood and an estimated 3000 of them have died due to the blood scandal.

Britain will spend more than 10 billion pounds (12.7 Billion dollars) as compensation to thousands of people who were infected in the treatment with blood contaminated with HIV or Hepatitis C in the 1970s and the 1980s. This infected blood scandal is widely seen as one of the worst treatment disasters in the history of the state-funded National Health Service. 

It is set to pave the way to a huge compensation bill that the British government is under pressure to rapidly pay out. The scandal would have remained in the dark forever had it not been for the tireless campaigners, many of whom saw their loved ones die decades sooner. 

Around 30,000 people were given the contaminated blood and an estimated 3000 of them have died due to the blood scandal. It is reported that more deaths have taken place and many lives have been affected by the disease and some of which have never been traced. 

What caused the Scandal? 

In the 1970s and 1980s when thousands of people were in need of blood due to various reasons like surgery, childbirth and more, they got exposed to blood tainted with a disease now called Hepatitis C and the HIV virus. 

Those with hemophilia, a condition that affects the blood’s ability to clot, were introduced a revolutionary new treatment derived from blood plasma.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK started using this treatment in the early 1970s and named it Factor VIII. It was found to be more convenient as compared to the other treatment and was dubbed a wonder drug. 

The increasing demand outstripped the domestic supply and hence the health officials began importing from the US, where the high proportion of plasma donations came from prisoners and drug users who were paid to donate blood. This dramatically raised the risk of plasma contamination. 

Factor VIII was made by mixing plasma from thousands of donations which could be compromised by one infected donor.  

The 1980s saw the emergence of AIDS, the largest public health emergency that should have been found in the LGBT population, among hemophiliacs and recipients of blood transfusions.

Not until 1983 was the etiology of AIDS-HIV determined, although as early as the previous year, the U.K. government received warnings had been relayed to the UK government the year before that the causative agent could be transmitted by blood products. There was insufficient evidence, according to the authorities. Patients continued receiving a treatment that put them in grave danger without being told of the risk.

The Result 

An independent inquiry report said that the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak would make an official apology following that a compensation package would be announced. 

The Finance Minister, Jeremy Hunt, said “I think this is the worst scandal of my lifetime.”

“I think that the families have got every right to be incredibly angry that generations of politicians, including me when I was health secretary, have not acted fast enough to address the scandal.”

He did not mention the cost or funding arrangements of the compensation scheme in his statement. 

The former Prime Minister, David Cameron apologised in 2015 for the scandal followed by a report into its impact in Scotland. In 2017, the government announced a public inquiry for the scandal under Prime Minister, Theresa May. 

The government has agreed for compensation for the case putting the final bill at an amount of 10 billion pounds ($12.7 billion). An interim compensation of 100,000 pounds has already been paid by the government as compensation to some victims at an estimation of 400 million pounds following a recommendation from the inquiry in 2022. 

The government is expected to announce different payments to different infections as compensation and also address how and when the bereaved families can apply for interim payments on behalf of the deceased people. 

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