"The financial support schemes across the United Kingdom are universally inadequate"
Ben Harrison - Milners solicitors
VICTIMS of “the worst treatment scandal in the NHS” are having their suffering aggravated by a payment support scheme that is inconsistent and inadequate, a Yorkshire law firm told Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s today.
Milners, who is representing a number of people at the Infected Blood Inquiry, has written to 10 Downing Street demanding action.
It called on Mr Johnson to start his premiership with “an act of compassion” for a group of people whose lives “have been destroyed through no fault of their own”.
The law firm, headquartered in Leeds, joined forces with fellow member of its legal team, barrister Sam Stein QC of Nexus Chambers – run by Michael Mansfield QC – to launch its campaign.
Milners solicitor Ben Harrison said he and his clients had faith in the inquiry and its Chair, Sir Brian Langstaff. And he was optimistic the full circumstances surrounding the infection of many thousands through contaminated blood and blood products would be uncovered.
Yet he warned Mr Johnson: “We consider that the financial support schemes across the United Kingdom are universally inadequate and inconsistent.
“We also recognise that the support scheme in place in Scotland is almost entirely superior to those in place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“There is no sense in having this sort of scheme inequality across the Union.
“We have heard repeatedly from those infected with Hepatitis C and HIV that they struggle to build or maintain their careers; in short, they fail to meet their full earning potential not only because of the diseases they have been infected with but, in many cases, because of the side-effects of the treatments which they have received for theirinfections.
“Many of these infected victims are left feeling inadequate in their inability to support their families and many live in fear of how their families will survive financially once their infections claim their lives.”
Mr Harrison told Mr Johnson that the inquiry had also heard from the bereaved partners of those infected, many of whom were living in poverty, having given up their careers to care for their partners.
They had been left with no means of surviving other than through reliance of benefits and the “small” means-tested sums they receive, outside of Scotland, through the different support schemes.
In their letter, they urge Mr Johnson to give hiscommitment to:
• Immediately bring parity to the various support schemes, by implementing the eligibility criteria and payment calculations of the Scotland Infected Blood Support Scheme to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
• In doing so, ensure that bereaved partners receive 75% of the payments their infected partners would otherwise be entitled to, and lift the requirement for means testing
• Immediately cease the reassessment of claimants of Personal Independence Payments, Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance where these claimants are registered with the different support schemes.
“As the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, you have an opportunity to begin your premiership with an act of compassion for a group of people whose lives have been destroyed through no fault of their own,” they told him.
Their letter concludes: “We trust and hope that in the fullness of time, the Infected Blood Inquiry will make recommendations for adequate compensation to be paid but in the interim, there is no reason why the infected and affected victims of the infected blood scandal should be left, in many cases, destitute.”
Urging Boris Johnson to show an ‘act of compassion’ ... solicitor Ben Harrison