PATIENTS who were given contaminated blood by Oxford doctors are hoping to finally get answers as an inquiry set up into what happened starts taking evidence today. 

The Infected Blood Inquiry will hear from victims at the hearing in Fleetbank House, central London, before similar testimonies take place over the coming months in Belfast, Leeds, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

Patients at the Oxford Haemophilia Centre at the Churchill Hospital in Headington were among the thousands of people infected with hepatitis C and HIV from tainted blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

The scandal has been labelled the 'worst treatment disaster' in the history of the NHS.

Many contaminated blood victims had haemophilia, a blood-clotting disorder, and relied on regular injections of clotting agent Factor VIII, which was made from pooling human blood plasma.

Britain was running low on supplies of Factor VIII so imported products from the US, where prison inmates and others were paid cash for giving blood.

Neil Weller, of Southmoor, near Abingdon, was infected with hepatitis from contaminated blood and has long demanded a full public enquiry into the scandal.

Oxford Mail: 'Forgotten': Neil Weller contracted hepatitis C after being transfused with contaminated blood in the 1980s

He has previously told this paper that he felt 'fobbed off and forgotten' and has had to watch close friends die as a result of what happened. 

The inquiry, which is being chaired by former High Court judge Sir Brian Langstaff, is expected to last up to two years. 

As the evidence taking gets under way, the Government has this morning announced that more money will be given to victims to help them deal with the ongoing consequences of what happened. 

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said regular annual payments for some of those infected would now 'substantially increase', from a total pot of £46 million to £75 million.

It said more bereaved partners of victims will also be eligible for support.

But the Factor 8 campaign group, set up by Jason Evans whose father was a victim of the scandal, said the new offer would equate to less than £900 per person.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The contaminated blood scandal was a tragedy that should never have happened and has caused unimaginable pain and hurt for victims and their families for decades.

“I know this will be a difficult time for victims and their families – but today will begin a journey which will be dedicated to getting to the truth of what happened and in delivering justice to everyone involved.”