Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Hepatitis C compensation boost

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said the new measures will provide additional financial support to those affected

Northern Ireland people who contracted hepatitis C from contaminated blood through the NHS will receive extra compensation.

Health minister Michael McGimpsey said a one-off payment will rise to £50,000 for some, and there will also be an annual payment of £12,800 for patients with hepatitis C from blood transfusions who develop serious liver disease.

Mr McGimpsey said: "It is only right and proper that people in Northern Ireland whose lives, and families, have been adversely affected by NHS treatment with infected blood should be appropriately supported.

"These new measures will ensure that additional financial support will be provided to people who have been affected, particularly those who are suffering most or experiencing financial hardship as a result of their condition.

"I hope these additional financial measures will go some way towards helping to improve the lives of those tragically infected with hepatitis C by contaminated blood products."

It follows a similar decision in England, Wales and Scotland. Almost 4,300 people across the UK, mainly haemophiliacs, were infected after being treated in the 1970s and 1980s.

The new provisions include doubling the one-off payment made to those with the most serious hepatitis C-related diseases to £50,000. Annual payments will rise in line with the cost of living.

The Haemophilia Society welcomed the extra support. Chief executive Chris James said on Thursday: "Today's announcement is a step in the right direction.

"However, the society remains deeply concerned that the levels of compensation for all those affected are far too low. There is little or no provision for the majority of those living with the real and potentially devastating impact of hepatitis C.

"There is also no provision to help with access to insurance - a major concern for those affected. We continue to press health ministers in all parts of the UK to work together to produce a fair and consistent approach to supporting people affected by the contaminated blood disaster."

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