Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed confirmation that £210,000 interim payments will be made to victims of the infected blood scandal.

The UK government announced the payment will be paid to living, infected beneficiaries ahead of the establishment of the final compensation scheme.

It comes after the Infected Blood Inquiry report published on Monday found that the scandal “could largely have been avoided” and there was a “pervasive” cover-up to hide the truth.

The investigation said patients were knowingly exposed to unacceptable risks of infection as it outlined deliberate attempts to conceal what unfolded, including evidence of officials destroying documents.

Sir Brian Langstaff’s report highlighted that Northern Ireland was reliant on blood donated by prisoners and military personnel, two groups associated with higher risk of blood infections.

Infected Blood inquiry
Sir Brian Langstaff’s report found that Northern Ireland ‘brought little independent thinking’ to the issue (Tracey Croggon/Infected Blood Inquiry/PA)

It also found that authorities in Northern Ireland “brought little independent thinking” to the issue and were content to allow central government to take the lead on all significant decisions related to the scandal.

On Wednesday, Mr Swann welcomed an announcement by the Government of further details on compensation arrangements.

This includes details of the expanded groups that will be eligible for compensation and a commitment that further interim payments of £210,000 will be paid to living, infected beneficiaries ahead of the establishment of the final scheme.

Mr Swann said those affected have already waited too long, adding that sadly some did not live to see this announcement.

“While this announcement on compensation is to be welcomed, the Government has a moral responsibility to work swiftly to fully implement the compensation scheme,” he said.

Covid-19 pandemic inquiry
Health Minister Robin Swann said those affected had already waited too long (Liam McBurney/PA)

“My department will be working with counterparts in Whitehall to ensure that the payments will be made to people in Northern Ireland at pace, while at the same time working in tandem across the health service and with colleagues across the Executive to consider the recommendations of the Infected Blood Inquiry.”

He added: “The actions taken by UK health services over several decades have had harrowing consequences. While compensation cannot turn back time, it is important the Government recognises the devastating impact this tragedy has had on so many lives.

“Finally, I welcome the appointment of Sir Robert Francis as interim chair of the Infected Blood Compensation Authority.

“Sir Robert has undertaken an extensive study on compensation as part of the Infected Blood Inquiry and will be well-placed to provide direction and structure for this body.

“Importantly the views of the infected blood community will be sought to inform the work of the Infected Blood Compensation Authority.”