Compensation for vCJD families
LONDON, England (CNN) -- Families of UK victims of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human form of mad cow disease, are each to receive an interim compensation payment of £25,000.
The money will be paid immediately to the estimated 86 families hit by the brain wasting disease while full compensation settlements for each person are decided.
A further eight suspected sufferers are still alive.
The money will go to families of people who have died and those caring for a relative still alive and suffering from the degenerative and incurable disease.
A no-fault compensation package was announced by the government last year in the wake of the Phillips Inquiry into the BSE scandal.
The Phillips report criticised ministers and civil servants for failing to respond quickly enough to warnings that Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle could enter the food chain and infect humans.
Solicitor David Body of Irwin Mitchell, the law firm representing families of vCJD victims, welcomed the announcement.
He said: "This interim payment will be made as soon as possible and will begin a round of negotiations between the government's lawyers and lawyers of the families to put in place a no fault scheme of compensation for the families designed to compensate losses and to meet needs.
"An interim payment of £25,000 is obviously the right step for the government to take at this time."
Families have long campaigned for compensation as successive governments have spent £4 billion compensating farmers for culled cattle as a result of the BSE crisis.
Ministers only announced the compensation and care package for human victims when Lord Phillips' report was published last October.
Some relatives may eventually receive hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation.
A new care package to ensure sufferers get early diagnosis, treatment and support has also been put in place.
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