Scottish Consultation Report on the Infected Blood Compensation Framework

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Scottish Consultation Report on the Infected Blood Compensation Framework

SIBF’s Tommy Leggate was commissioned, jointly with Haemophilia Scotland, to carry out the Scottish consultation on a proposed Infected Blood Compensation Scheme.

This Scottish Consultation was devised and designed to inform the UK wide Compensation Framework consultation being undertaken by Sir Robert Francis QC at the request of the UK Government.

While the UK Government has funded the work of Sir Robert Francis QC, the Scottish Government has funded the work on this consultation. This consultation remains independent of Scottish Government influence.

The report was submitted to Sir Robert Francis QC for his consideration. The release of his final report to the UK Government is due mid-March 2022. We expect him to be called as a witness at the Infected Blood Inquiry at some point thereafter. At this stage, disappointingly and perhaps predictably, it remains unclear if and when the UK Government will publish the report publicly.

The full report can be viewed at the bottom of this page.



Respondents

The report is based on a comprehensive Scottish response to the consultation.

There were 258 responses during the three weeks of the consultation, from 1st to 21st November, representing 47% of the SIBSS beneficiary numbers as at November 2021.

Further, 35 infected and affected people attended the ‘Zoom’ Focus Group sessions which were run in tandem with the consultation survey.

Foreword by Joyce Donnelly, SIBF Convener

It has been said that “an unprecedented disaster requires an unprecedented response”. That has certainly been reflected in the resounding responses received from this Scottish Consultation. They reflect the true nature of this grotesque human tragedy.

For too long Governments in the UK have treated the pressing issue of compensation like a political football, continually being kicked into the long grass. While this ‘game’ was being played thousands have already died and more are dying at increasing rates month after month, year after year.

Ministers and Cabinet Secretaries acknowledge substantial compensation should be paid to individuals infected and affected to match the acknowledged moral obligation the State has to recompense victims.

There is a sense from the four Focus Groups held as part of this consultation, that politicians seem to want to minimise their financial obligation, while at the same time maximise spin and virtue signal how well they have treated victims. Some view this in itself as a form of abuse where the harmer then gets to decide how to make-up for the harm they’ve meted out.

Others expressed the view that UK government politicians may further scupper an acceptable resolution to this disaster by limiting money available to justly recompense people, either by using other disasters as a pretext for that, or by imposing financial compensation obligations for a UK injury/disaster on small devolved administrations and governments within the UK. This, ‘the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS’ happened before devolution, on a UK Governed basis. Respondents and Focus Group attendees in particular unequivocally stated that financial compensation should therefore be funded commensurately and centrally from the UK Treasury.

They also expressed concerns at further delays and agreed that the UK Government should make interim lump sum compensation payments as a matter of great urgency. In the context of the harms suffered, an interim figure of at least £100,000 per infected person initially was seen as being reasonable.

To do otherwise would delay justice, a key theme also expressed.

A common question raised at the Focus Groups was how do you compensate for losing a father, wife, son or daughter? In the most practical terms money can help, but it can never make up for the loss of a loved one or one’s health and capacity to care and provide for one’s family.

I would like to express my gratitude, personally and on behalf of all trustees and members of SIBF, to all those who participated in filling out the on-line questionnaire, those who called-in by telephone and those who attended ‘virtually’ the four extremely important Focus Group meetings. I’d like to thank SIBSS and Scottish Government for supporting and assisting this consultation.

Finally, I would like to express my thanks to Tommy Leggate for carrying out this consultation.

Foreword by Bill Wright, Haemophilia Scotland Chair

When we set out to respond to Sir Robert Francis consultation we wanted to try and involve as many of those involved as possible, particularly those in Scotland who have been unable to be heard but have been impacted by the infected blood disaster. So we are most grateful to everyone who responded. We must also thank SIBSS and the Scottish Government for their support in making it happen.

The next steps, based on the evidence from this report will involve a lot of work and persuasion.

Firstly we need to ensure no-one ends up with less than they are already receiving via the existing Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme – maintaining the monthly payments that now form most people’s monthly incomes. They are clearly ‘vital’ to them.

Second, we need to ensure that compensation extends to those who have not had sufficient recognition. That means providing for those mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and carers who have until now never been able to register with, or claim from, any support scheme, despite the impact on their lives, particularly when losing those closest to them. It also means extending new compensation payments to those already on support schemes. They have only had significant support in recent years, rather than over the decades of loss, pain and grief they faced, when they should have had ongoing support.

Finally, the report indicates considerable hesitancy and anxiety about prolonged assessment and the wish by many to avoid intrusion and delay. This needs to be addressed urgently. However, even the best thought out scheme will not address all circumstances. For those who feel they would be better served by a detailed assessment of their personal case, with legal support, that choice needs to remain as an option. We seek not to stand in their way.

So, with thanks to Tommy Leggate, the report’s author, we are submitting this in response to the Infected Blood Compensation Study led by Sir Robert Francis. We also urge Governments, politicians and officials to take heed of the messages it carries and act accordingly.

Executive Summary excerpt:

In summary, most people in Scotland who responded…

• Are SIBSS members (96.8%)

• Don’t want detailed personal assessments (by a factor of 2.7 times more than those that did)

• Want rapid compensation payments (75.6%), as lump sums (79%), administered in Scotland (67.1%)

• Many wanted an interim compensation payment asap after mid-March (when Sir Robert Francis reports to Cabinet Office)

• As well as SIBSS continuing in existence & making monthly payments (93%)

• Current and past support and ex-gratia payments must not be conflated with, or treated as, part/’payment on account’ compensation (94.5%)

• Want Compensation expanded to other family members and carers (77.5%).

Other responses were also received where most:

• Felt split over whether they should/shouldn’t take part in a meeting with Sir Robert Francis, expressing age-related mobility issues, lack of trust and lack of transparency issues dealing with UK Government;

• Of those who did, most wanted face-to-face plus ‘Zoom’ type call-ins.

The strong sentiments expressed from the Focus Groups included the above but also:

• The support schemes (SIBSS et al) should remain and continue to make the planned monthly support payments to infected and affected beneficiaries.

• Lump sum Compensation payments should be from the date of infection(s) and recompense for the past (and likely future) harms of the infection(s) and the past toxic treatments which exacerbated the physical harms.

• These on-going payments are critical to the financial, physical, emotional and psychological well-being of the infected and affected.

• Compensation payments should be funded centrally by the UK Treasury, and

• Compensation payments should not be conflated with past ex-gratia and on-going support scheme payments.

• To do otherwise would only seek to limit the Government’s financial obligations due to people and limit Government’s moral obligation to substantially compensate victims.

• An interim lump-sum compensation payment should be recommended by Sir Robert Francis in his report to Government, payable as soon as possible after submission of the report.

• As people and families experience the loss of loved ones and the consequences of decades of “grinding poverty” to delay any payments would be to delay justice.

The full report can be viewed below:

Scottish-Consultation-on-Infected-Blood-Compensation-Framework-Final-Report-December-2021

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