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politics

UK faces its worst health scandal – POLITICO

As early as 1990, several HIV-infected patients launched a legal battle, followed by a group infected with hepatitis 10 years later. But while other countries hit by similar scandals began to seek redress, British governments of all political stripes have for decades rejected calls for a full, legal public inquiry.

Various no-fault payment systems have been introduced over the years, although they have been criticized as being patchy and inadequate, and unfavorably compared to a system launched in the Republic of Ireland in 1995.

Campaigning MPs are watching for real signs that the government machine is now recognizing its mistakes. “What I think Sir Brian needs to address is how for decades this was not accepted by the government,” Home Affairs Committee chair Diana Johnson told POLITICO. “There has been a cover-up for 40 years” and neither Labor nor the Conservatives will fare well, she predicts.

It was not until 2017, when 500 people took legal action, that then-Prime Minister Theresa May ordered the current investigation. A government-commissioned report in 2020 by lawyer Robert Francis speculated that compensation could range from £50,000 for mild illness to £315,000 for co-infection with two serious illnesses. But he stressed that it was only an “illustration”.

At a significant point in 2022, the government agreed to provide victims of the scandal with £100,000 in interim compensation. However, the payments did not cover many parents and children of the deceased.

Johnson points out that the inquiry actually established the framework for compensation 13 months ago – and yet victims are still waiting. “It’s really infuriating that we had to deal with this last April,” the MP said. “There’s no reason why this couldn’t have been set up and ready to go (today).”

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