VICTIMS of the NHS infected blood scandal are likely to have their compensation almost doubled after a financial support review group made a series of recommendations to the Scottish Government.

The report said that the money people infected with HIV, or who developed advanced Hepatitis C, through contaminated blood products should be increased from £15,000 to £27,000 per year in line with the Scottish full-time gross median income, and that those co-infected should receive an increased award of £37,000.

The review further proposes that all co-infected people who are currently at stage one of the Skipton Fund process, a UK-wide fund set up to organise payments to victims, should automatically receive the £50,000 lump sum they would normally only get by applying and qualifying for stage two.

For the first time, widows or widowers would also be supported by an annual pension.

The review was set up in the wake of the Penrose Inquiry, published earlier this year, after £25 million was awarded to patients who contracted diseases after being given infected blood products by the NHS.

Hundreds of people in Scotland, many of whom were haemophiliac patients, were given the contaminated blood and blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

Victims’ groups have argued the compensation awarded was inadequate and the review recommendations, published yesterday, have been welcomed by Haemophilia Scotland and Health Secretary Shona Robison.

The Department of Health recently estimated the number of victims was 30,000 UK-wide.

Haemophilia Scotland chairman Bill Wright, who was infected with hepatitis C through his treatment for haemophilia in the 1980s, welcomed the recommendations and said he was hopeful that the Scottish Government would rubber-stamp them before World Haemophilia Day next April.

He said: “After decades of loss, pain, illness and grief, we are finally making significant progress in Scotland, in contrast to the rest of the UK, where no extra money is yet on offer.

“While discussions were at times tense, the result is all affected should soon be significantly better off financially.

“Urgency is needed to ensure they are not delayed. People must benefit from the proposed new arrangements before there are further deaths.”

The review group involved civil servants and lawyers acting on behalf of the Government during the course of the review and to that extent there was an element of negotiation involved in the discussions so we would be extremely surprised if the Government did not accept the recommendations in full.

“For widows in particular, this is a massive step forward because almost half the haemophilia population have passed away since the disaster and the widows were left with absolutely no support whatsoever.”

The proposals will now be examined by the Scottish Government, which will decide whether to implement them.

Robison said: “I welcome these recommendations from the financial review group. We will carefully consider all of them and come to a decision on a way forward in due course.

“A new and improved system of financial support for those infected in Scotland will be announced before World Haemophilia Day, next April.

“We are committed to improving the help and support on offer for people who are still having to deal with the consequences of this tragedy.”