BBC and STV inaccurate reporting causes confusion

Press release – Scottish Government announcement
18th March 2016
BBC coverage, one year post Penrose – the ‘look-back’ recommendation
21st March 2016
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BBC and STV inaccurate reporting causes confusion

The BBC and STV covered the Scottish Government announcement and both contained abridged quotes from Philip Dolan taken from our Press Release.

Both media organisations, however, reported misleading and inaccurate information, in what is admittedly a complex issue for the first time observer.

We recognise the pressure on news outlets to compress a story into short ‘pieces’ or ‘sound-bites’ for the viewer/listener benefit, however misreporting a story may be viewed by some as being more detrimental to not reporting the story at all.

Below is a Statement issued to both the BBC and STV the day after the reporing pieces in question, for the record.

 

SIBF STATEMENT IN RELATION TO MISLEADING REPORTS AROUND ANNUAL PAYMENTS

The Scottish Infected Blood Forum (‘SIBF’) would like to clarify and correct misleading reports by some media outlets in their reporting and synopsis of the Scottish Government’s announcement yesterday.

Many media reports have promulgated erroneously in some of their television and radio news items the idea that all those infected with Hepatitis C from NHS contaminated blood and blood products from infection in Scotland are to receive £27,000 pa annual payments.

Such an error uncorrected could prove to be substantively misleading for those viewers/listeners who reasonably relied on their accuracy.

The correct position on what is proposed by the Scottish Government is that those who have been classified as ‘stage 2’, that is those who have ‘advanced hepatitis C’ and developed serious liver disease (e.g. cirrhosis or cancer) will receive the annual payments. Those who have not been classed as ‘stage 2’, but who nevertheless have or had ‘chronic’ hepatitis C (classed as ‘stage 1’), will receive no annual payments (but will however receive a one-off £30,000 payment).

This is an important distinction to get right because the majority of those infected by Hepatitis C, i.e. estimated at approximately 80%, have not been classed as ‘stage 2’ and so are ineligible for any annual support payments under these proposals.

Our original Press Release, in particular, identified and highlighted the distinction because the lack of annual payments for those in ‘stage 1’ formed the basis of SIBF’s Note of Dissent position paper to the Financial Review Group’s Proposals (which was included as an appendix to the Proposal paper)

Further, the Scottish Government themselves have conceded that further work will be required to be done to correct this unfair discrepancy. Patrick McGuire, Solicitor Advocate and Partner from Thompsons Solicitors has also commented on this aspect.

The classifications of ‘stage 1’ and ‘stage 2’ have been borrowed from the categorisation of victims used by the Skipton Fund. The distinction between ‘stage 1’ and ‘stage 2’ has been arbitrarily based on degree of liver damage which may be assessed inconsistently from one clinician to another.

Many informed parties and the victims themselves know that such an arbitrary classification is outmoded and inappropriate as it suggests that those in ‘stage 1’ do not suffer from other serious, chronic and debilitating health conditions, health conditions that have resulted not just from the Hepatitis C virus infection itself but by serious side-effects of past treatments for the virus, given by the NHS, that was supposed to ‘cure’ the infected person.

In summary, those infected people who have been classed as ‘stage 1’ (i.e. the majority of victims) will receive a one-off £30,000 under these new Government proposals, but will not receive any annual payments.

 

SIBF’s original Press release can be found here

 

SIBF’s Note of Dissent can be found here

 

SIBF’s Detailed commentary on the Review Groups proposals, which formed the basis for aspects of the Note of Dissent can be found here

 

The Scottish Government’s Press Release can be found here

 

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