Political Journalist, Politics Show Scotland
Throughout 1980s many Scots started falling ill with a mystery disease. Scientists eventually discovered that they had contracted a new form of the hepatitis virus ... Hepatitis C.
Given a contaminated blood clotting agent
Many of them suffered from haemophilia. They were contaminated with the virus after being given a contaminated blood clotting agent.
Since then, they and their families have been fighting for some kind of cash payment. For years, their pleas were ignored by politicians until the setting up of the Scottish Parliament.
Their case was taken up by the powerful Health Committee, who pushed the Scottish Executive into looking at the issue in detail.
In response, the Executive set up an independent expert group chaired by Lord Ross.
His report recommended that all those who contracted Hepatitis C from contaminated blood products should automatically get a £10,000 payment.
Those who were made chronically ill by the virus should get an additional £40,000. And those who suffered other severe illnesses like cirrhosis or liver cancer should be compensated in line with common law damages.
That could mean compensation of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
But in February 2003, the Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm announced that ... although he agreed that some payments should be made ... he was not going to follow Lord Ross's recommendations.
Instead, the maximum amount anyone in Scotland could get would be £45,000. The Scottish Haemophilia Forum described that as 'derisory'. They have also been angered at the delay in the payments.
In Ireland, by contrast, the government has been making 'non-fault compensation payments' through a special tribunal. Hepatitis C sufferers can expect to get payments of around 500,000 Euros.
So should the Executive be looking at the payments again?
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