Victims of the contaminated blood scandal win ruling to seek damages

Victims of the contaminated blood scandal win ruling to seek damages

500 claimants successfully obtained an order from the High Court on 25 September 2017, allowing them to begin Court proceedings against the Department of Health, seeking compensation in respect of the blood contamination scandal, which came to light in the 1970s and 1980s.

The claimants are either victims or relatives of victims who received a drug called Factor 8. Factor 8 treats the hereditary disease haemophilia, which prevents a patient's blood from clotting. The UK imported this drug from abroad, and one of the components in it is blood plasma, which is naturally produced. The drug given to some 7,500 haemophiliac patients were found to contain blood plasma infected with diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C, as a result of the samples coming from infected persons, such as prisoners, who sold their blood or blood products.

Approximately 4,500 people are known to have contracted diseases as a result of the infected drugs, and 2,400 people are known to have died as a result.

Various legal settlements with families were made with the Department of Health in the 1990s. The Court was told by the claimants' lawyers that documents have subsequently been discovered which prove that the government was aware of the infections in 1983, but that victims were not told until 1986. These documents were not disclosed to families during the settlements in the 1990s and this, they argued, invalidated those settlements.

The government attempted to argue that these settlements raised complex legal issues which should be resolved before new proceedings begin. In July this year, Theresa May announced a public enquiry. The government also argued that Court proceedings would be inappropriate given the existence of an enquiry.

The Court was not persuaded, and gave the claimants permission to begin their claims. This order does not involve any finding of fault, merely that the claims can be brought.

If you think you have a claim for clinical negligence and wish to find out more or discuss your individual requirements in further detail, contact us today on 01603 693500 or email us using 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham, and Sheringham offices.