Improvements to the financial support given to those affected by the contaminated blood scandal must be made as a matter of urgency, MSPs have been told.

Holyrood's Health Committee heard the implementation of new arrangements would go some way to giving victims and their families closure, following a lengthy battle for justice.

Representatives of those affected were also highly critical of the six-year Penrose Inquiry, which looked into contaminated NHS blood supplies and published its findings in March last year.

Hundreds of people in Scotland, many of whom were haemophiliac patients, were infected with hepatitis C and HIV through contaminated blood and blood products by the NHS in the 1970s and 1980s.

The inquiry made just one recommendation - that people who had a blood transfusion before 1991 should now be tested for hepatitis C.

Bill Wright, of Haemophilia Scotland, told the committee that while for some it was not money that mattered, and apologies from the First Minister and Health Secretary had meant a great deal, for many it was a question of "financial recognition".

"If we go down the route of legal compensation, then this story will continue for years and years and years much further," he said.

"Now, we don't want that, we want in terms of closure, or as near to closure as possible, to try and get money to people as soon as possible."

Following the publication of the inquiry's findings, Health Secretary Shona Robison set up the Contaminated Blood Financial Support Review Group.

It said those infected with HIV, or who developed advanced Hepatitis C, should get £27,000 per year - the equivalent of the average Scottish salary. They are currently offered £15,000.

For the first time, widows or widowers would also be supported by an annual pension.

The Scottish Government said it had yet to decide whether to implement the new proposals.

Mr Wright continued: "We are aware of circumstances where there are families where it is likely that the infected partner will die and they want to be able to pass away in the knowledge that their widows - and I must impress upon you the need for urgency here - that their widows are properly looked after.

"Because the widows in this story have been treated shoddily, really, really shoddily.

"We need government to move on this, to make an early announcement, so that the circumstances in which those people who are in fear for their partner's lives, the partners at least know that when they pass on there will be some sound financial support for those who are left behind."

On the Penrose Inquiry, which was branded a "whitewash" by victims, Mr Wright said: "I think a six-year long inquiry costing £12 million like that, that came to only one recommendation, does actually bring the whole inquiry system into dispute itself, and the Inquiries Act and the Inquiries Regulations."

Petra Wright, of the Hepatitis C Trust, said: "The recommendations that the review group has made will go a long way to beginning the end for a lot of people."

Philip Dolan, of the Scottish Infected Blood Forum, said: "A lot of our members ... are people who got blood transfusions. They went into hospital looking to be cared for and they got out suddenly finding they have a life-threatening condition.

"I think it was an opportunity - some blame should have been apportioned."