Infected blood scandal: Campaigners "confused" as Sir Jonathan Montgomery appointed to head up compensation
Politicians and campaigners are at loggerheads after a shock revelation about who will be in charge of compensation for infected blood victims.
During the 1970s and 80s, thousands of NHS patients were infected with blood that had been contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C. Last year, an inquiry concluded that victims of the scandal should be compensated with payments no less than £100,000. Now, it has been confirmed that the man chairing the group of compensation advisors would be Sir Jonathan Montgomery - who is connected to an NHS trust at the heart of the scandal in the first place.
Since April 2019 he has been chairman of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where people treated at the Oxford Haemophilia Centre were given the infected blood.
Campaigner Jason Evans, director of Factor 8, said: "We are confused as to why the government has appointed the chairman of Oxford NHS Trust and Bayer council member, Sir Jonathan Montgomery, to provide the government with advice on compensation when a detailed framework was presented to the government by Sir Robert Francis KC in March 2022.
"Sir Robert’s framework and advice, which was welcomed by our community and endorsed by the Infected Blood Inquiry in its final compensation recommendations in April 2023, has gone ignored by the government all this time. Naturally, our community is concerned that Number 10 and the Treasury want to water down the Inquiry’s final compensation recommendations.
"The Oxford NHS Trust is at the heart of the infected blood scandal, at the centre of infectivity studies, and Bayer manufactured and supplied much of the Hepatitis C and HIV infected Factor 8 products to the UK during the 1980s."
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister has supported Sir Jonathan's appointment, adding that his position on the Bayer bioethics council was an independent advisory role - and one he ceased last year.
They said: "He [Sir Jonathan] is an experienced healthcare law scholar who has played a leading role in UK public bioethics for many years. We intend to respond in full following the publication of the final report, obviously we are already aware that this covers an extremely complex set of issues, and that’s why a lot of work has been going on previously and continues to be undertaken.
"We obviously have this appointment as well which will support us in being able to provide that response swiftly. Work is very much ongoing in readiness for that publication."