Contaminated blood scandal sees hundreds descend on Parliament
PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 April 2016
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Hundreds of people are due to protest outside Parliament today over one of the biggest treatment disasters in the history of the NHS.
Victims of the contaminated blood scandal will take their campaign to Westminster as they call on the government to halt a widely panned consultation into systems of support for those affected.
The blood scandal saw some 6,000 people, many with the blood disorder haemophilia, infected with HIV and hepatitis C by infected blood products used by the NHS up until 1991.
Despite three decades of campaigning and more than 2,000 deaths there has been no public enquiry into how the disaster happened and no proper system of compensation for the victims.
Campaigners hoped a long-awaited government consultation on a new blueprint for payments and support for victims, announced in January, would be a huge leap forward in the fight for justice.
But it has caused outrage amongst campaign groups who claim most victims will be left worse off under the proposed reforms.
Sue Threakall, of the campaign group Tainted Blood, said: “The reaction to the consultation has been one of dumb despair even among seasoned campaigners.
“There’s absolute shock that a government that has been working with us and seemed to think they could get it right has got it so catastrophically wrong.
“It needs to go back to the drawing board. The government needs to say we got it wrong and we’re going to revisit this - not in six months or 12 months but now.”
Campaign groups have demanded, as a minimum, that any proposed payouts for English and Welsh victims of the disaster are at least equivalent to a support package already on the table for victims of the blood scandal in Scotland.
The protest comes ahead of a backbench debate in the House of Commons this afternoon.
MPs are due to move a motion asking the government to recognise the contaminated blood scandal as one of the biggest treatment disasters in the history of the NHS.
The debate will call for the government to recognise some victims will be left worse-off under the proposed reforms and that key groups who have been affected by the scandal, such as widows and children of the dead, have been left out of the payout plans altogether.
* Journalist Emma Youle will be reporting live on the protest and the debate from the House of Commons. Follow the latest updates on @emmayoule