Hemophiliacs in Scotland Infected With Hepatitis C Through Contaminated Blood to Receive Compensation; Similar Funds Denied in England and Wales
Although hemophiliacs in Scotland who contracted hepatitis C through contaminated blood transfusions will likely receive compensation from Scottish officials, there are no plans for the U.K. government to offer similar compensation to hemophiliacs in England and Wales, the Guardian reports. The Scottish Executive issued a report recommending that a fund be established immediately to provide compensation to people with hepatitis C in Scotland who can "prove" that they were given contaminated blood or blood products by the United Kingdom's National Health Service (Boseley, Guardian, 11/7). An estimated 300 Scots contracted the virus through blood transfusions before the Scottish National Health Service instituted blood screening procedures in the early 1990s. In October 2001, Scottish Health Minister Susan Deacon ordered NHS lawyers to begin negotiating settlements with those who contracted the disease from transfusions after March 1988 and sought legal compensation under the Consumer Protection Act (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/5/01).
'No Case' Against NHS
The U.K. NHS stated yesterday that hemophiliacs in England and Wales who contracted hepatitis C through blood transfusions "had no case" for compensation by NHS, stating that the infections occurred "at a time when the NHS did not know that the blood was tainted." A statement issued by the NHS said, "We deeply regret that so many people were infected. However this government and its predecessor have held that compensation is only paid to patients when the NHS has been at fault, and that an exception to this rule is not justified in the case of people with hepatitis C." The disparity in compensation between Scotland and England and Wales has angered hemophiliacs and other patient advocates. The Hemophilia Society has proposed an $82 million program that would provide compensation for all hemophiliacs in the United Kingdom who contracted the disease (Guardian, 11/7).