The SIBF has acquired information compiled on request by Nick Fish of the Skipton Fund for those resident in Scotland who received Hepatitis C from infected blood and blood products outside of Scotland, in either English, Welsh or Northern Irish hospitals/clinics.
This data based on last known addresses held by the Skipton Fund on its database as of May 2017. According to Nick Fish, the Fund does not always know if someone is still alive, so the figures above cannot be 100% accurate, but it gives a good idea of the rough numbers involved.
Among other things, this tells us there are approximately 9 people living and resident in Scotland who cannot get on the Scottish scheme as they are deemed to be allocated to the ‘English’ scheme based on their ascribed country of infection. It also tells us that a further 7 people in this ‘category’ have already died.
This means 9 people are losing out on the enhanced Scottish financial support payments by approximately £13,000 p.a. (£27,000 minus £14,000).
We have been informed by one member who appealed against being allocated to the ‘English’ scheme rather than the Scottish scheme, thus they were one one of the 9 who formally appealed the decision and process. They were rebutted by procedural explanations, among other things.
Whilst acknowledging the Scottish Government’s positive action for state infected people, this member felt that the decision to not allow moving them to the Scottish scheme went against ‘natural justice’. They felt the current criteria does not produce fair outcomes and decisions for the small number of people sharing those circumstances. Clearly those 9 people will have been infected by the HCV virus before devolution (pre 1999), within the UK, from the UK NHS. As such they argue that they are being penalised, and the community divided, by arbitrary rules that do not reflect the substance of their circumstances; instead they say officials seem to be sticking rigidly to the ‘form’ of the rules rather than the ‘spirit’ of them.
If new rules were amended to allow those 9 infected people into the Scottish scheme, they would receive almost double what they are getting at the moment, a substantial uplift.
The member requested that the decision be looked at again to avoid dividing victims up on an unfair and unreasonable basis.
Their request was rebutted, citing procedural and devolved administration difficulties.
The person was told one of the reasons was that claimant tourism may occur. We agree with the member and consider this could be circumvented by the implementation of reasonable controls. We understand these are not referred to in the response the member received from the Scottish Government.
However, it is unclear what constraints the prior agreement with other devolved administrations may be placing on the Scottish Government in this regard.
The member asked the Scottish Government to show leadership and consider the further unfairness and injustice that they, and a very small number of others still alive, are faced with.
So, do you feel the current rules reflect and provide a fair outcome for these people? Do you agree with the decision? Please tell us how you feel about this.