Justice for survivors of the HIV scandal

On March 25, 2021, the Government made a significant announcement regarding the Contaminated Blood Scandal, expressing its intent to appoint an independent reviewer to examine a compensation framework for those impacted by the tragedy. Sir Robert Francis QC was selected to lead this review, distinct from the ongoing public inquiry into the scandal, which focuses on individuals with haemophilia infected with HIV and/or hepatitis during the 1970s and 80s.

In July 2021, we conveyed our expectations to Sir Robert, emphasizing that all members of the original Macfarlane community should be considered for compensation without exception. Additionally, we advocated for a distinct voice for individuals living with HIV, funding for legal support for core participants, and comprehensive compensation that goes beyond financial remuneration to include access to optimal healthcare.

Subsequently, on December 7, 2021, we collaborated with the infected blood community to formulate Principles for Fair Compensation, which we submitted to Sir Robert Francis QC. We urged him to utilize these principles to inform his framework conclusions, which explore compensation options related to infected blood products.

On March 29, 2022, alongside the All Party Parliamentary Group and others, we petitioned the Paymaster General Michael Ellis for the urgent release of the Compensation Framework Study. Our efforts proved successful, leading to the study’s publication before Sir Robert provided oral evidence to the Inquiry. Furthermore, we stressed the importance of the Government considering victims’ voices before responding to the study.

By June 17, 2022, our Chief Executive called on the Government to commit immediately to compensation payments and provide interim payments to those affected by HIV due to the Contaminated Blood Scandal. This advocacy culminated in a cross-organizational delegation to 10 Downing Street on July 11, 2022, urging the Prime Minister to expedite interim compensation payments for affected individuals. As a result, on August 17, 2022, it was announced that some victims would receive interim compensation payments of £100,000 each, disbursed in September and October 2022.

Throughout the summer, we collaborated with charities, grassroots campaign groups, and activists to secure interim compensation payments for members of the Macfarlane Community. However, we recognize that this is merely a starting point.

In anticipation of World AIDS Day 2022, we urged the Government to recognize the moral imperative for compensating the infected blood community. We also called for the initiation of a registration process for affected individuals and the publication of a compensation timetable in partnership with stakeholders. Elizabeth MacRae, whose family was impacted by the scandal, shared her story and perspective at the Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day reception, contributing to the Government’s acknowledgment of the moral case for compensation on December 15, 2022.

On March 6, 2023, our Chief Executive urged the Government to confirm the Consumer Price Index (CPI) uplift to the Infected Blood Support Schemes, resulting in an increased payment. Additionally, on March 20, 2023, our Chief Executive demanded that the Government honor its commitment to ensuring lifelong support schemes, as pledged by the then Health Secretary Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP at The Infected Blood Inquiry.

In an unprecedented move on April 6, 2023, Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of The Infected Blood Inquiry, issued his second interim report containing comprehensive compensation recommendations, many of which we endorse. This includes advocating for interim compensation payments for unrecognized deaths and the implementation of a compensation scheme by year-end.

On May 17, 2023, together with fellow campaigners, our Chief Executive petitioned the Chair of The Infected Blood Inquiry to summon Government officials to testify, as progress on compensation appeared to stagnate. Consequently, the Prime Minister, Chancellor, Leader of the House of Commons, and Paymaster General were called to give evidence at the end of July.

The Macfarlane Community should not have to await the Inquiry’s conclusions before receiving a Government response to Sir Robert Francis’s report. Nor should they wait for the compensation framework construction to commence or for the registration and verification of affected individuals. Our commitment to this cause persists as we continue our efforts towards justice and support for those impacted by the Contaminated Blood Scandal.