Rishi Sunak: Prime minister says blood scandal has gone on "too long" - but stays evasive about compensation

Almost 3,000 people died in what's considered to be the NHS' biggest treatment scandal.
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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has labelled a scandal where thousands of people were given contaminated blood as "appalling" - but remained coy on the topic of compensation.

The Infected Blood Inquiry is investigating how roughly 30,000 patients in the 1970s and 80s received blood that was infected with HIV and hepatitis C, and whether authorities, including the government, attempted to cover it up. Today (26 July) the PM sat before the panel to answer their questions about the scandal.

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Sunak gave his thanks to patients who had submitted evidence to the inquiry, and said a resolution has taken "far too long" but did not directly answer questions about compensation for families, who have been campaigning for justice for more than 40 years.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appeared before the inquiry today. (Picture: Contributed)Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appeared before the inquiry today. (Picture: Contributed)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appeared before the inquiry today. (Picture: Contributed)

He said: "I believe what has happene has been an appalling scandal. I think thosands of people have suffered for decades, and suffered layers of injustices.

"It hasn't just affected those patients - it's affected their families, friends and carers as well, so it goes far beyong those who were directly impacted. This is not just about historic wrongs, people are suffering and being impacted today. It has been moving for me and I commend everyone who has shared their testimonies for their bravery, as it's enable this important work to take place.

"People have been waiting far too long to get the recognition that they deserve for what's happened, and the redress for it - but it's right that the inquiry finishes its work, provides it's recommendations and then the government acts as quickly as possible. Of course I wish that this could happen quicker."

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Those affected by the scandal and their families could be heard laughing at the Prime Minister from the gallery as he responded to the questions put to him.

In a letter to Sunak when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Penny Mordaunt MP - who was Paymaster General at the time - told him that the government will need to provide "substantial compensation" to victims.

She commissioned a framework study at the start of the inquiry process, but to this date no compensation framework has been put into place.

The Prime Minister was asked whether the government’s reluctance to respond to the Infected Blood Inquiry chairman’s recommendation in April that an interim compensation scheme be expanded amounts to a rejection of the advice.

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"The government is doing its work and what I don’t want to do is add to what I believe to be a litany of broken promises and dashed expectations that everyone in this room and everyone watching has had to endure for years, if not decades," Sunak said.

"The last thing I want to do is sit here and promise something else and give people false hope, and I want to be completely straight. I want to see resolution as quickly as practically possible, I’ve made that crystal clear."

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