“Everyone affected by the tragedy, including widows and dependents, should receive support commensurate with the decades of suffering and loss of amenity they have experienced.”
12th April 2016
‘Quietly solve this or it could lead to an open-ended commitment of huge proportions’
16th April 2016
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Contaminated Blood debate in the House of Commons

As many victims and their relatives from all over the UK protested outside the House of Commons in Westminster today, UK MP’s debated inside the House on the UK Consultation proposals. In a delayed but empassioned debate, the English consulation proposals were roundly dismissed as derisery by the majority of speakers.

House_of_Commons

Several MP’s highlighted the Scottish Proposals of the Financial Review Group, which SIBF members and representatives were members. The Scottish proposals were seen as providing a better direction of travel than the English/rUK proposals.

Diana Johnson, an English MP who sponsored the Backbench debate noted:

“The Scottish proposals have been broadly welcomed, partly because of the way in which the consultation was conducted in Scotland, and the clear acknowledgement, for example, that the existing trust structure will be scrapped.”

“The Scottish proposals are far more generous to hepatitis C stage 2 and HIV sufferers, who will receive £27,000 per annum or £37,000 if they are co-infected, which is welcome”

She went on to say

“but are much less generous for hepatitis C stage 1’s, who will receive an additional lump sum payment but no ongoing support.”

This highlights SIBF’s position about the work still to be done by the Scottish Government through its Financial Review Group when it reconvenes.

Chris Stephens MP - 12 Apr 16 House of Commons

Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West SNP MP) spoke on behalf of one of our members, Cathy Young, who has given her ‘story’ elsewhere on this website. Cathy, who spoke eloquently at the Memorial event last month, provided Chris with a copy of our latest ‘Connections’ Newsletter, which you can download this here, and her views on the Scottish and English proposals.

The debate, ironically like the Penrose Inquiry, yielded a lot of information about the loss, suffering and financial detriments contaminated blood victims have endured for over 40 years. We will post further articles from this in the near future.

The full debate and indexed excerpts can be viewed here http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/d1cd4828-eacb-4afe-b313-9e9c4d63d2e8?in=11:39:36 (starts at 3.51pm – 15.51.33)

Below is a transcript of what Chris Stephens MP had to say:

” …I start my remarks the way she ended hers—by saying that we are debating compensation proposals for what has been described as the worst treatment disaster in the history of the national health service.

Some 80% of victims are critically ill as a result of receiving contaminated blood and blood products. They suffer the side effects of past treatments, and they are in financial hardship, having been forced out of employment precisely because of the health issues caused by infection. They, their families and the families of those who have died should be treated with equal primacy.​

Only weeks after my election, I was contacted by my constituent Cathy Young, who is a stage 1 widow. Cathy is a member of the Scottish Infected Blood Forum and a passionate advocate on this issue. When I met her last week, I asked her to give me her thoughts on what I should say this afternoon, so let me describe them for the next few moments.

Cathy said:

“I don’t know due to the Scottish Government’s recently accepting the review group’s recommendations what can be said, but what I would say is how can the UK Government consultation regarding other UK widows be so far off the mark compared to Scotland. There is more work to be done particularly in relation to extra hepatic manifestations, other illnesses caused by hepatitis C other than liver disease. What will the UK Government do to address this?”

She sent me an email today saying she was sorry that today sees the funeral of another victim of contaminated blood.

As the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael) and my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Dr Monaghan) have pointed out, the Scottish Infected Blood Forum has identified 25 families resident in Scotland who would be covered under the proposed UK Government scheme, as the original incident took place while they were resident elsewhere in the UK. Therefore, MPs representing constituencies in Scotland may find themselves representing constituents with two distinct offers of compensation. That is not fair—it is completely unjust.

The Haemophilia Society has sent an email, which I think the Father of the House has touched on, about the differences between the UK and Scottish Government proposals. It is worth emphasising those differences for the benefit of those watching these proceedings. Those in the rest of the UK with advanced HIV or hepatitis C will get £12,000 less in annual payments. Those elsewhere in the UK who are co-infected with hepatitis C and HIV will get £7,000 less in annual payments, and there will be limited or no support available for the widows, partners and children of those infected. There will be substantially reduced ongoing support for those elsewhere in the UK.

The Scottish Government have, in effect, committed to almost doubling the support they give to victims, widows and widowers, and dependent children. The Haemophilia Society is concerned that, without significant revisions to their proposals, the UK Government will fail to follow the example set by the Scottish Government in offering victims of this terrible tragedy and their families the support they deserve. I hope that Ministers in this place recognise that and that they will address the issue.

There is now a very real concern that the UK Government have broken their promise to deliver improvements to the current scheme of payments. In early 2015, the Prime Minister said:

“I want us to take action. I am not sure whether that action will ever fully satisfy those who want this wrong to be righted, but as a wealthy and successful country we should be helping these people more. We will help them more, but we need Penrose first, and if I am standing here after the next election it will be done.”—[Official Report, 11 March 2015; Vol. 594, c. 289.]

Where do we go from here? The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, who represents part of my constituency in the Scottish Parliament, has summed it up beautifully {taken from April’s ‘Connections’ Newsletter article}:

“In total, of course, hundreds of people in Scotland died after being infected through blood transfusions and even after all this time it is still hard to imagine the difficulties, the anxieties, and the hardships that people and their families have had to contend with.

In addition to dealing with the illness itself, you’ve had to cope with uncertainty, with sorrow, and with grief. Many people, of course, feel stigmatised despite being utterly blameless. And I know that people still fight daily battles, both physical and physiological, to achieve some kind of normality in their lives…We as a society have a moral obligation to help people who are infected with an illness by the Health Service”.

Let us use those words as a guide to how we take this issue forward, compensate the victims and their families, and provide for them what they truly deserve.”

From <https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-04-12/debates/16041246000001/ContaminatedBlood>

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