The UK's National Health Service is facing a £10 million compensation bill because more than 100 patients who contracted the liver disease hepatitis C through infected blood supplies won damages yesterday.

In six lead cases, the courts awarded sums ranging from £10,000 to £210,000 per person, which could increase as the claimant's condition deteriorates. This is the first time since its introduction in 1988 that the Consumer Protection Act has been tested on medical products in the UK.

The 114 patients in the case were infected with the hepatitis C virus in blood transfusions between 1988, when the Consumer Protection Act became law, and 1991 when screening for the virus was introduced. The NHS is now preparing itself for a flood of similar claims from sufferers of CJD who contracted the disease from blood products and who will be able to apply the same criteria to gain compensation.

Anthony Mallen,...

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