Scottish Government have announced a major improvement to their Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme (SIBSS) as a result of their acceptance of all the recommendations and conclusions from the Clinical Review into the impacts of chronic hepatitis C.
Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, announced the new package of regular financial supports to augment the existing SIBSS which was seen as already the most generous financial support scheme in the UK
Additional funding has been allocated to enable Scottish Government to discharge what the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called their ‘moral responsibility’ to endeavour to provide some form of justice, financially at least, for victims of the contaminated blood disaster in Scotland.
Joe Fitzpatrick announced that the Scottish Government will make the following payments for those with chronic hepatitis c (HCV) who have submitted an application to the Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme (SIBSS):
For those widows, widowers, civil partners or other long-term partners of deceased beneficiaries who had chronic HCV, they will receive annual payments at 75% of the level above:
In addition, those widows, widowers or partners of those who had chronic HCV who did not receive the £30,000 additional lump sum paid to living beneficiaries with chronic HCV will now also receive this one-off lump sum payment.
This means stage 1 widows/widowers/long-term partners are to receive 75% of the chronic support level, i.e. 75% of £18,900, which is £14,175 annually. Crucially, the Health Minister has also decided to award this category of people an additional one-off lump sum payment of £30,000.
|Stage 1/chronically infected
|Stage 1 Widow/widower (75%)
We are hopeful that Mr Fitzpatrick will also make a further announcement regarding the index-linking of SIBSS annual payments.
The changes are designed to fix an anomaly identified by SIBF from the Financial Review Group’s Report where we highlighted the injustice of not awarding chronically infected/stage 1’s with an annual support payment.
We hope the Health Minister has put that anomaly ‘to bed’ with this announcement. SIBF welcomes these progressive measures, we feel they will have a profound effect on many severely impacted chronically infected people in Scotland, in particular the widows/widowers who have been previously overlooked.
John Rice, Convener of the Scottish Infected Blood Forum, said:
“We welcome these changes to the Scottish support scheme as they address the anomalies we identified nearly 3 years ago to the original Scottish scheme.
We are grateful to the Scottish Government for taking bold action and leading the way in the UK for better financial support payments for those people infected and affected by the Contaminated Blood Disaster in Scotland. In particular we are grateful to the Health Minister, Joe Fitzpatrick, and his team for listening to us, and others, and engaging with us in an open, constructive and respectful manner.
And working constructively with Haemophilia Scotland, while we did not get everything we wished for in the changes, we see this as a major step forward in giving financial help to people who so desperately need it and for helping them to live what’s left of their lives with some semblance of dignity.
In particular we welcome the one-off lump sum payments of £30,000 to be given to stage 1/chronically infected widows/widowers/long term partners who died before April 2016, who have been neglected for so long.
We hope now our cousins across the rest of the UK, including fellow core participants in the UK Infected Blood Inquiry, put pressure on the Cabinet office to immediately instigate change in the EIBSS payment scheme, with commensurate changes to the Welsh (WIBSS) and Northern Irish (NIIBS) schemes, and stop hiding behind departmental and governmental structures as a pretext for maintaining the current derisory arrangements, to match the progressive and more socially-just Scottish Government scheme amounts, so that everyone across the UK can benefit from what we view as the ‘gold standard’ in support schemes administered by Governments and Assemblies within the devolved nations across the UK.”