Payments made to infected blood victims in Scotland

Hepatitis C virus Image copyright SPL

Hundreds of people given infected NHS blood in Scotland have now received extra financial support, according to the Scottish government.

More than 300 people infected with hepatitis C have been given lump sums totalling tens of thousands of pounds.

Some have also received improved annual payments of up to £37,000.

Campaigners said they remained "anxious" about the slow rate of progress on the issue, particularly for those with early symptoms of disease.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said the Scottish government was committed helping those affected by the "terrible chapter" in NHS history.

It is estimated that about 3,000 Scots were infected with hepatitis C and HIV through NHS blood products in the 1970s through to the early 90s.

Infections also occurred on a huge scale in the rest of the UK, but Scotland is the only part of the UK to hold an inquiry.

Earlier this year the government said victims of the infected blood scandal would get increased financial support.

It has now revealed that:

  • 330 people have received lump sums of £30,000;
  • One-off payments of £50,000 have been made to 11 people with both HIV and hepatitis C;
  • A total of 138 people have received annual payments of either £27,000 or £37,000, depending on the circumstances of their illness;
  • Annual payments to help widows and widowers of victims are expected to begin in April.

The developments were broadly welcomed by campaigners but they called for urgent action to address concerns over widows' payments.

Haemophilia Scotland chairman Bill Wright said the payments would only be made to partners of people who died from illnesses like cirrhosis or liver cancer, which are linked to advanced "stage two" hepatitis C.

Widows and widowers of people who had less advanced "stage one" hepatitis C will not get payments, even if their deaths were "strongly suspected" to be linked to their existing condition.

"We are pretty anxious about the rate of progress," he said. " We need to get back around the table with ministers to try and tackle the process as much as possible."

He also raised concerns that the administration procedures for new payments may not be ready by April.

The health secretary told BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that officials were working hard to meet the deadline.

She said: "I am keeping a very close eye on progress but I have had nothing to me to say that there's anything that is not optimistic about getting this up and running by 1 April."

'Generous support'

Annual payments are being made to people with advanced hepatitis C - but not those with the disease in "stage one".

Tommy Leggate, of the Scottish Infected Blood Forum (SIBF), said the system for deciding who receives the payments was "inadequate, arbitrary and not fit for purpose".

"The Scottish government has still not accepted that people in stage one can be as seriously affected as those in stage two," he said.

"There are some people in stage two who lead more of a normal life than those in stage one."

Ms Robison said the money was a "lifeline" to families across Scotland.

"The Scottish government is absolutely committed to doing all we can to help the people affected by this terrible chapter in the history of our health service," she said.

"We remain the only country in the UK to have held a full public inquiry and I'm proud that we can now offer the most generous support in the UK to those infected, and their families."

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