Blackburn MP Kate Hollern writes her fortnightly column for the Lancashire Telegraph

Thousands of people have died as a result of the infected blood scandal, which saw patients infected with HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s. Having been raised with me by constituents in Blackburn, it is an issue that I am keenly aware of.

For years, campaigning and advocacy organisations have been trying to secure justice for those affected. In July 2017, then-Prime Minister Theresa May announced a public inquiry, which has been running since 2018. An interim payment of £100,000 for victims and affected partners was announced in August 2022. The inquiry’s report was set to be published this autumn, but has since been delayed until Spring 2024.

The inquiry’s statistics report produced estimates of the number of people affected. Published in September 2022, it found that around 1,250 people with bleeding disorders were infected with HIV in the UK, and at least a further 2,400 people with bleeding disorders were infected with HCV.

Some fifty years later, many bereaved families are still awaiting compensation. Under the current scheme, only victims themselves, or their bereaved partners, are eligible for an interim payment of around £100,000. However, campaigners want to see this extended to bereaved parents and orphaned children.

Last Monday saw Rishi Sunak’s first Commons defeat as Prime Minister, when a Labour amendment passed by 246 votes to 242. Twenty three Tory MPs rebelled and supported Labour’s amendment, despite last-ditch attempts by the Prime Minister to placate Conservative MPs.

MPs voted to establish a body to administer the compensation scheme for victims of the infected blood scandal, within three months of the Bill becoming law.

The recent King’s Speech highlighted the government’s intention to “act swiftly in response to the final report of the Infected Blood Inquiry – following the interim payments we have already made".

Of those affected by the scandal, around half have already died. It is estimated that someone affected by infected blood dies every four days. It is high time that victims and their families receive the compensation that they deserve, and I am heartened that the amendment should go some way in ensuring that justice is delivered swiftly and urgently.

This should not be a party-political issue. It is the responsibility of members across the House to address this historic wrong, and ensure that justice is delivered. I hope to see further cross-party collaboration ahead of the final compensation scheme.