Sir Robert Francis’s Statement of Intent

A statement of intent from Sir Robert Francis, IBCA's interim Chair

I am truly humbled to have been appointed as interim chair of the Infected Blood Compensation Authority and pleased that on Friday Parliament passed the legislation to bring the Authority into legal existence.

It goes without saying that all those people who have been infected by HIV, Hepatitis B or C, as well as those who love and care for them, have been frustrated and distressed by the seemingly endless delays in achieving proper recognition of the wrongs done to them. I have seen the effects of that for myself on those in this community who helped me with preparing my Framework review in 2021. So the Authority will have to ensure that compensation is assessed and paid to those entitled to it as soon as possible.

We are not starting from scratch and a great deal of work has already been done.  My Framework Review recommendations were largely accepted, with some important modifications by Sir Brian Langstaff in his Second Interim Report. The Government’s response announced this week was based on the work of an expert group led by Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery, which sought to produce proposals for a scheme which aligned with Sir Brian’s recommendations.  A summary of these proposals has been published.

The Victims and Prisoners Act obliges the Government to establish the compensation scheme within three months of Royal Assent, that is on or before 24 August. The terms of the regulations will be a matter for the Government, but all agree that it is essential that the community is given the chance to comment further and for their feedback to be taken into account. It is obviously important that this process does not hold up the setting up of the scheme beyond the end of the three month period.

Therefore, I will spend the next month reaching out to the community and their representatives to hear what they have to say on the compensation scheme before its terms are set out in regulations. We will shortly be publishing a list of questions about the matters on which we particularly want help; however, you will be free to raise any matter you wish. I will do my best to convey to the Government the range of views expressed.  I think it is important for the scheme within its limits to meet the concerns of each and every person within the infected and affected communities.

I am committed to doing everything in my power to ensure that the Authority supports and pays those due compensation under the Infected Blood Compensation Scheme accurately, accessibly, securely and speedily. To do this we are urgently developing the Authority’s systems, staffing and skills at pace to enable it to become fully operational as soon as possible.  An interim CEO to the Authority has already been appointed and we are urgently recruiting other required Board members.

The Authority and its staff will adopt a simple but crucial set of values. We may want to take time to consider the precise wording but essentially they are values to which any public body should work to:

  • Integrity
  • Compassion
  • Candour
  • Transparency
  • Fairness
  • Efficiency
  • Propriety in the use of public funds

From now on a simple set of principles should inform the work of the Authority:

  • We must act independently
  • We must earn the trust of the community
  • Our work must proceed with a minimum of delay
  • We must involve the infected and affected communities in the important decisions made about the scheme and have regard to their views and needs
  • We must be responsive to their concerns
  • We must uphold the dignity and respect of those who have suffered harm
  • We must actively support those who wish to make applications to us
  • Eligibility for an award should be clear and as easy as possible to understand
  • Our processes must be the least burdensome for applicants as is compatible with fairness and justice
  • Our reasons for any individual decision should be clear
  • Our priority must be to deliver justice in so far as the award of compensation under the scheme can do so to all who are entitled to an award.

The community must consult on how the scheme is formed in order for it to meet their needs and priorities. So I ask all who have not yet done so to register their interest.  That way people will receive the best information about future developments.  I look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible over the coming month.

Sir Robert Francis

29 May 2024

From: Infected Blood Compensation Authority