‘Infected blood killed my dad – I want compensation now’

Posted: 22nd June 2023

The family of a man who died after being given infected blood have called on the UK government to pay their compensation immediately.

Randolph Peter Gordon-Smith, who had haemophilia, learned in 1994 that he had been infected with hepatitis C.

His daughter said the family were “abandoned” to care for him without support before his death in 2018.

The chairman of the UK infected blood inquiry has said parents and children of victims should receive compensation.

Sir Brian Langstaff wants to see a final compensation framework set up by the end of the year.

Surviving victims and widows received interim compensation payments of £100,000 from the UK government last October.

More than 3,000 people died after contracting HIV or hepatitis C via NHS treatments in the 1970s and 80s.

Justine Gordon-Smith told BBC Scotland her father’s behaviour had changed in the years before he learned he had been infected.

“He’d always been a very dynamic man, very charming and very good-looking and very charismatic,” she said.

“And all of a sudden he became erratic, he was falling asleep all the time, his temper changed.”

She said it led to him losing his health, his business, his wife, his home and a large inheritance.

“It was awful,” she added. “Then he retreated into becoming a recluse and he stopped communicating with his children. He was so ashamed.”

Ms Gordon-Smith is angry that the whole family were not informed of his diagnosis and that he was not given adequate information about the impact it would have on his health.

She accused the UK government of pursuing a policy of “deny, delay and death” in relation to the infected blood scandal.

And she said he was shown “disregard” by the state when he was dying.

Ms Gordon-Smith, who lives in Edinburgh, says compensation would provide an acknowledgement of “what they did to our family” as his daughters cared for him when he was dying.

“I think the government needs to get their chequebook out, do the right thing and pay [the compensation],” she added. “Not when the inquiry rules, but now.”

“We lost our dad two years before he actually died because he was so impacted by the palliative care drugs.

“The distress this has caused myself and all my sisters has made it difficult for us as a family.”

She said the palliative care drugs “tortured him to death”.

“I think it is a disgrace that they didn’t provide proper palliative care for our dad, that they abandoned my sisters and I to take care of him and provide 24 hour care for two years.

“That we had to deal with suicide attempts, that we had to face all that without any support from the government.”

Meanwhile, a director of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) has privately admitted that the lives of people like Mr Gordon-Smith could have been saved at a relatively low cost.

In an email obtained by campaign group Factor 8, Prof Marc Turner makes the admission to a colleague in the weeks after the infected blood inquiry chair called for compensation scheme to be widened.

The email said: “It would have been better to spend a few thousands of £s to reduce transmissions than a few billions of compensate people after that fact (in my opinion).

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

‘Avoidable’ scandal

Jason Evans, director of Factor 8, said Prof Turner’s statement was true but he should make it publicly and address those people who have been affected.

“That the kind of thing that people who have been so badly harmed, people whose loved ones have been killed, have waited a long time to hear. I just wish those statements were made publicly.

“It also confirms what many of us have suspected for a long time that this scandal – contrary to the government and public authority lines for many years – was preventable it was avoidable.

“At the end of the day it came down to money. Those in authority didn’t invest the money or resource to stop this from happening. As a result people died and there’s a price to be paid for that.”

NHS National Services Scotland said the comment was a personal opinion of a SNBTS director who was not invited to give a personal witness statement to the inquiry.

A spokesperson said: “The impact of transfusion-transmitted infections on patients, as well as their families and friends, cannot be understated and we recognise that there have been instances in the past where SNBTS could have performed better.

“We deeply regret these shortcomings and have explicitly accepted responsibility and apologised for them in our written and oral submissions to the inquiry.”

They said they would carefully consider the recommendation of Sir Brian Langstaff when the infected blood inquiry’s final report is published in the autumn.

A spokesman for the UK government said: “The government accepts the moral case for compensation and work is ongoing at pace and in consultation with the devolved administrations to consider the recommendations put forward in the inquiry’s second interim report.”

A debate on the infected blood inquiry is due to take place in the House of Commons later.

Source: ‘Infected blood killed my dad – I want compensation now’ – BBC News

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