LONDON -- In a reversal of Thatcher policy, the new government of Prime Minister John Major agreed yesterday to give compensation to hemophiliacs infected with the AIDS virus through blood treatments given by the National Health Service.
The decision brings Britain into line with compensation plans that have been adopted overseas. Under Margaret Thatcher, the government had contended there was no negligence and, therefore, no legal responsibility for the accidental infections.
The new initiative is of political as well as humane significance, identifying the new government with the sort of "caring Conservatism" that Mr. Major, who was a former minister for the disabled, had promised during his leadership campaign last month.
Health Secretary William Waldegrave announced that the compensation to the AIDS victims and their families would be $84 million.
This would be on top of the $68 million already paid out to the 1,200 hemophiliacs involved.
The Hemophiliac Society said it was not enough.
David Watters, who is a spokesman for the hemophiliacs, described it as "a poor reaction" to the 5-year-old, intensive campaign for compensation.
Al Morris, the Labor Party spokesman for the disabled, said that more than 140 hemophiliac victims already had died and that the toll was increasing with one death weekly.