A THIRTY year campaign for justice has resulted in a funding boost for hundreds of Scottish people given infected NHS blood.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government pledged that people infected with HIV and/or hepatitis C would receive increased lump sums and annual payments.

Around 330 people have since received top-up lump sums of £30,000 and another 11 people infected with both HIV and hepatitis C have been given an extra £50,000 lump sum. In addition, 138 people have had their annual payments increased to either £27,000 or £37,000, depending on the circumstances of their illness.

Work is also now well under way on a new scheme for infected blood support in Scotland, which includes new annual payments for widows and widowers whose husband or wife died as a result of their hepatitis C or HIV infection. The scheme is expected to begin in April next year and payments will be 75 per cent of the amount the infected person would be entitled to under the new arrangements if they were alive.

It is estimated that almost 3,000 people in Scotland have been infected with one or more viruses due to contaminated NHS blood and blood products given during the 1970s and 1980s. Exact figures are not known due to incomplete, destroyed or missing records.

According to the Scottish Infected Blood Forum, decisions were made concerning the blood supply that placed everyone in Scotland, and the rest of the UK, at risk.

“Some of that blood supply came from sources known to be at much higher risk of being contaminated, including the prison population,” said a spokesperson for the Scottish Infected Blood Forum. “There were also delays in heat treating the blood supply to eliminate or at least reduce the risk of infections.

“The authorities were also aware that a new type of hepatitis was around in the blood supply – it would later be named hepatitis C. Back then the possible impacts of hepatitis C on patients were either unknown or minimised. It turns out that many people were not even told they had been infected with a virus. Some people didn’t find out for over 10 years, by which time they could have been infecting others by not taking quite simple precautions.”

Although welcoming the long-awaited funding boost, the charity pointed out that the campaign for compensation has taken so long that many have died without seeing the benefits.

“People have lost jobs, homes, and opportunities,” said the spokesperson. “They were left to live with a life-threatening virus for years, many getting progressively more unwell, but unable to explain why – some were accused of alcoholism or drug use.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said yesterday that the Scottish Government had “worked hard to deliver increased payments for those infected in Scotland through the existing UK schemes this year, despite delays in getting the new arrangements agreed with the UK Government and the existing schemes”.

“We know that this money can be a lifeline to families across Scotland,” she said.

“I’m also pleased that the new Scottish payment system is on course to be delivered next spring. The needs of patients and their families will be very much at its heart.

“The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to doing all we can to help the people affected by this terrible chapter in the history of our health service. We remain the only country in the UK to have held a full public inquiry and I’m proud that we can now offer the most generous support in the UK to those infected, and their families.”

The first major breakthrough for the campaigners came in 2008 when then Health Minister in the Scottish Government, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, announced that there would be a public inquiry. This became the Penrose Inquiry, which cost £12 million.