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Press release – Scottish Government announcement

The Scottish Government today issued a press release covering its announcement that all the key proposals of the Financial Review Group have been accepted.

Curiously SIBF’s Convener not asked to contribute to the Government’s Press release.

The Forum issued its own Press release in response, which we feature below.

 

Press release.…..Press release.…..Press release……Press release……

SIBF welcomes Scottish Government decision on Contaminated Blood but argues more needs to be done.

 

The Scottish Infected Blood Forum1 welcomes the Scottish Government’s announcement that it has accepted the key recommendations proposed by the Financial Review Group2 Final Report3.

The proposals are a step forward in providing some form of justice for the innocent victims of the ”worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS”4.

In particular SIBF acknowledges the Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison’s support, the careful way she listened to victims and the continuing efforts she has made to produce this part of the settlement.

However, the Forum remains critical of the failure to address the issues of the majority of victims who do not qualify for annual payments (so-called ‘stage 1’5) due to inappropriate and outmoded arbitrary illness thresholds, as detailed in SIBF’s Note of Dissent6.

According to the work of the Penrose Inquiry, stage 1 victims account for approximately 80% of all those infected.

For those infected in Scotland, the Scottish Government has committed to:

 

  • Increase annual payments for those with advanced Hepatitis C (at Stage 25), HIV and for those co-infected with both Hepatitis C and HIV.
  • Provide annual payments to widows and widowers of those who have died as a result of their advanced (Stage 2) Hepatitis C or HIV infection.
  • Provide a lump sum of £30,000 to all those who are infected with chronic Hepatitis C at Stage 1. This will mean that victims in Scotland will finally receive the amount of money that Lord Ross’s Expert Group recommended in 2003, some 13 years ago.
  • Increase Scottish Government funding for a Support and Assistance grants scheme for those infected and their families to £1 million per year.

 

As detailed in SIBF’s Scoping Exercise8, many victims who are classified as stage 1 (the 80%) are chronically ill as a result of receiving contaminated blood and blood products from the NHS, and the side-effects of past treatments, and have been forced out of employment due to health issues caused by the infection. Many have suffered, and continue to suffer, substantial financial hardship due to being State infected. They, their families and the families of those who have died should be treated with equal primacy together with those who have been classed Stage 2.

SIBF Convener, Philip Dolan MBE commented “We welcome the Scottish Government’s statement which is a step forward in obtaining some justice for victims. SIBF and partner organisations will continue to lobby and argue for a full, fair and equal settlement for the needs of the majority, who seek to live out the remainder of their lives with financial stability and dignity”. He added “There is no guarantee that the ongoing needs of the majority who are deemed to fall below Stage 2 will be met. The fear is that more people from this key group will die before a satisfactory and just financial settlement is provided to them”.

SIBF’s position is detailed in the Note of Dissent Position Paper6 which was included in the Group’s Final Report.

The Forum welcomes the opportunity to continue the work with the Scottish Government and others, when the Financial Review Group reconvenes after the Scottish Parliament elections, to ensure that this part of the settlement is paid promptly to victims. SIBF hopes that the Department of Health in London will offer every assistance in a timely fashion to support the direction of travel in Scotland.

 

Ends (555 words)

 

For further information, please contact:

Philip Dolan MBE, Convener of the Scottish Infected Blood Forum

tel: 07974 823937 / 0141 649 0050, email: pdolan614@btinternet.com

 

Date: 18 March 2016

 

 

Notes to Editors:

  1. Established in 2012, the Scottish Infected Blood Forum is the only recognised charity in Scotland that seeks to provide support for those who have been infected or affected with hepatitis C as the result of NHS contaminated blood, including those with haemophilia and those who received blood transfusions. It also provides a voice for those who have been unable to give oral evidence to the widely criticised Penrose Inquiry. The precursor organisation to SIBF, the Scottish Haemophilia Forum, had been lobbying the Scottish Government since 1999 when the Scottish Parliament was reconvened.
  2. The Financial Review Group was convened after the Penrose Inquiry Final report was published in March 2015 and was chaired by Ian Welsh OBE, Chair of the ALLIANCE (Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland). It involved a range of affected groups, both infected individuals and family members, together with Scottish Government civil servants and lawyers. They provided their recommendations to Ministers in December 2015.
  3. The Financial Review Group Final Report, published by Haemophilia Scotland, can be downloaded from sibf.org.uk
  4. Described by professor, medical doctor and broadcaster, Lord Robert Winston, Lords Hansard text for 22 Oct 2010 (pt 0001)
  5. Victims have been categorised in ‘stages’, based on the criteria established by The Skipton Fund. Stage 1 victims are those who have contracted Hepatitis C from contaminated blood and blood products, or have acquired it from someone who was infected. Stage 2 victims are those who have went on to develop advanced liver disease as a result of the infection.
  6. The SIBF Note of Dissent can be viewed in full at sibf.org.uk
  7. The Hepatitis C Skipton Fund was set up in 2004 to help those who were infected with the disease through treatment on the NHS, or through contact with someone who had such treatment. There are three stages of payment, depending on the stage that the infection has reached in the person claiming on the fund.
    1. The first stage is a payment of £20,000, which is paid out to those who have Hepatitis C that has not cleared spontaneously.
    2. A further £50,000 is paid out to those who have the most serious effects of the Hepatitis C virus, such as cirrhosis of the liver.
  • A further annual payment is then paid out to those who have advanced liver disease (as set out in the scheme) or B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  1. The SIBF Scoping Exercise Final Report can be downloaded from sibf.org.uk and contains responses and comments from over 120 people infected or affected as a result of receiving contaminated blood.

 

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