Letter to the Prime Minister from the Scottish Infected Blood Forum and Haemophilia Scotland

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Letter to the Prime Minister from the Scottish Infected Blood Forum and Haemophilia Scotland

11 October 2018

Dear Prime Minister,

We write as charities who support those affected by infected blood and blood products in Scotland. We were strongly represented at the Preliminary Hearings of the Infected Blood Inquiry, including at the moving Commemoration Ceremony which the Minister for the Cabinet Office the Rt. Hon David Lidington CBE MP attended. We are writing regarding two issues that arise from those three days.

Firstly, we were disappointed that while you were, correctly, responsible for calling the Inquiry itself, you were not present at any part of the Inquiry Preliminary Hearings or opening Commemoration.

Secondly, we have made clear to Scottish Government the reasons why we believe they should be a core participant. We have left them in no doubt of our disappointment that they have not yet signed up or agreed with the Inquiry and the Cabinet Office the arrangements under which they will participate.

RESPECTING THOSE SURVIVORS FROM THE BLOOD PRODUCTS DISASTER.
We have viewed your personal attendance and involvement in other disaster memorials and note the UK Governments statement that the Inquiry is a priority. Therefore, it was a considerable disappointment to those Scots following the Inquiry that you did not attend the Infected Blood Inquiry Preliminary Hearings or Commemoration.

When Haemophilia Scotland initiated and hosted a Memorial for those in Scotland who had been infected and affected, it was attended by the First Minister, Deputy First Minister, Cabinet Secretary for Health, and the Minister for Public Health. Indeed, the First Minister spoke at it. Therefore, we trust you will appreciate why we believe a similar demonstration of support from you personally was necessary. After so many years of campaigning in the teeth of opposition from Central Government, infected and affected people need reassurance that there is sufficient political will to make the Inquiry the priority it needs to be and respond adequately to any recommendations it makes.

While the opportunity afforded by the Commemoration in Church House has passed, we suggest that other opportunities are available to demonstrate your interest. For example, you could issue an invitation to some of the key campaigners and charities to meet with you in person, as you have in the case of other disasters. No previous Prime Minister has done so despite the long decades of opportunities throughout the campaign. The sheer scale of the numbers affected, compared to other disasters, or in your own words ‘scandal that should never have happened’, surely justify affording those affected this opportunity.

The timing of such a meeting might coincide with the first evidential oral hearings. A meeting would allow you to hear first-hand of what immediate steps might be possible to assist those affected and affirm the Government’s expression of ‘priority’.

We have been in touch with other haemophilia charities based in Wales, Northern Ireland, and England in this respect.

RESOLVING THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT AS A CORE PARTICIPANT.
We were very surprised and shocked to learn last week that Scottish Government had not yet signed up as a core participant. This despite the Scottish Government Minister for Health writing to you on October 27th 2017 confirming their wish to become core participants.

On our return to Scotland we immediately met with the Scottish Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, and put to him in person our deep disappointment at the Scottish Government’s failure to sign up as a core participant despite Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments having done so. We have discovered that since October 2017 there has been subsequent correspondence with the Cabinet Office. We are continuing to press and work with Scottish Government to secure their full involvement and now have their written assurance that they will become a core participant of the Inquiry. We view very dimly any possibility of a dispute between Scottish Government and UK Government over the financing of Scottish Government involvement resulting in infected and affected people being treated disrespectfully or being used as a political ping-pong ball.

We expect the UK Government to do everything in its power to resolve any outstanding differences and to facilitating the positive involvement of the Scottish Government in the Infected Blood Inquiry as a Core Participant as soon as possible.
We have welcomed the inclusive approach taken by Sir Brian Langstaff and his Inquiry team to date. In the spirit they have established we trust that you will respond positively to the constructive proposals we have set out above.

Yours sincerely,

3 Comments

  1. Victim says:

    We survivors are just an endless annoyance to the government. (including Hollyrood)
    Why else have they refused to admit liability and endlessly refused proper compensation?
    Scotland is no better than Whitehall, and will continue giving tokenistic hand-outs for as long as it can..
    They cannot afford to properly compensate victims of an avoidable and criminal-led tragedy of this scale.
    Scottish population is 8% of UK.
    BUT, Scottish HCV/HIV infectees are 20% of UK population. WHY!!!!
    Scotland has to answer these appalling statistics of us having had more than double the chance of being HCV-infected by NHS blood and Factor 8, than other UK residents..
    It cannot afford to answer, and it has to cover up the criminality, so will go the tokenistic-handout SIBSS route forever..
    We HCV & Interferon -ribavirin survivors are also more than twice as likely to suffer non-hepatic cancer than anyone in the non-hep C- compromised population (but nobody will acknowledge that either, and it’s scathingly ignored)

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m appalled that the Prime Minister did not even have the good grace to acknowledge our suffering by attending the Commemorative part of the Preliminary Hearings. You would think she might have learned from the public shaming that forced her to eventually make her way along the relatively short road to meet the Grenfell Tower victims. Our event was even closed to home. She could literally have walked along a couple of streets. If she isn’t prepared to host a delegation in Downing Street as suggested by this fair and reasonable letter (and assuming she is still there by next April) then that will tell us everything we need to know about what the Government thinks of our plight (as if we can’t surmise that already).

  3. Anonymous says:

    Excuse my cynicism but nobody can say it is not justified by experience. Mrs May will quite possibly agree to a meeting. However she probably already knows that even if she makes it to 29 March, Brexit Day, she could well be out by 30 March. The new PM then resets the diary to deal with his or her priorities (on the advice of civil servants of course) and our insignificant little problem (in their eyes) can easily be put off, maybe indefinitely.

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