Deadline nears for High Court contaminated blood litigation claims
The civil litigation concerns imported blood-clotting products which caused people to be infected with HIV and hepatitis C in the 1970s and 80s.
A deadline is approaching for victims of the contaminated blood scandal to join hundreds of other claimants in a High Court damages action.
The civil litigation, brought against the Health Secretary, concerns imported blood-clotting products which caused people to be infected with HIV and hepatitis C in the 1970s and 80s – leading to the deaths of more than 2,000 patients.
The court heard in February there were 760 claimants who wanted to participate in the group litigation and lawyers were receiving about 20 enquiries a week.
A judge is expected to hear how the case, known as the Contaminated Blood Products Group Litigation, is progressing at a hearing in London on Friday.
Friday was previously set as the cut-off date for any further victims to register their claims, which are being handled by Watford-based law firm Collins Solicitors.
Lawyers said in a statement ahead of the hearing it appears the Department of Health and Social Care “intends to fight the victims and their families all the way”.
Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, said: “It appears to be intent on dragging the victims and their families of infected blood products through as much pain and suffering as possible.
“It also seems determined to string legal proceedings out for as long as possible.
“As things stand the victims and their families will have to endure both the group litigation action going through the High Court and the public inquiry into what happened and why.”
Jason Evans, 29, from Coventry, is one of the claimants suing the Government for damages.
He was aged four when his 31-year-old father Jonathan died after being infected with HIV through treatment with contaminated blood.
Speaking after the previous court hearing, he said was it was “crazy” it was taking so long for an inquiry into the scandal to be held.
He said at the time: “People have waited long enough. People are still dying now.”
“The scandal itself is very wrong – but the way it has been dealt with is also very wrong.”
Mr Justice Martin Spencer made an anonymity order in February, covering all claimants apart from Mr Evans.
Victims were infected in what has been called the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.
An announcement was made by Prime Minister Theresa May in November last year that a “full statutory inquiry” would be carried out into the scandal.
In January, Labour former shadow health minister Diana Johnson called on the Government in a Commons debate to take “immediate steps” in establishing an inquiry, saying lack of progress was “causing huge distress and upset for those families affected”.