SIBF welcomes the decision but more needs to be done to address those in ‘stage 1’
The Scottish Infected Blood Forum welcomes the Scottish Government’s announcement that it has accepted the key recommendations proposed by the Financial Review Group Final Report.
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”.
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’) due to inappropriate and outmoded arbitrary illness thresholds, as detailed in SIBF’s Note of Dissent.
According to the work of the Penrose Inquiry, stage 1 victims account for approximately 80% of all those infected.
Here is a summary of the proposals in relation to those who were infected with HCV and/or HIV from contaminated blood and blood products from the NHS in Scotland:
Regarding annual payments, and contrary to some media reports, the correct position is that only those classed as Skipton ‘stage 2’ will receive them, i.e. those who are deemed to have cirrhosis of the liver or carcinoma.
Those in ‘stage 1’ who are deemed not to have ‘advanced’ hepatitis C, that is they do not have cirrhosis or carcinoma, will not receive annual payments under these current proposals, but they will receive a lump-sum payment of £30,000 if they’d previously received £20,000, or they will get £50,000 if they haven’t received the initial £20,000.
It is our understanding that if you were in stage 1 and have subsequently ‘cleared’ the virus then you should be eligible for the additional £30,000 lump sum payment.
The timing of when these payments are to be made still remains to be confirmed.
As detailed in SIBF’s Scoping Exercise, 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 Paper 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.