Now that the blood disaster is in the public domain and sharply in focus, well established opinions have resurfaced with both Members and Government coming at the same issue from very different perspectives.
For many of our members their opinion and voice is filtered through the lens of their own personal experience, including every door that’s been slammed in their faces over the last 30-40 years.
For elected members of both parliaments and for the wheels of government that serve elected officials, their position has to be one not of individuality, unlike our members, but that of being an effective servant of everyone – and with that comes hard choices and priorities.
Some of our members can engage in debate around these issues, some cannot, and cannot deal with the reopening of old, deep wounds. Ruminating over the disaster/scandal, whichever word you want to use, one member summed up his frustration at the end of his sentence with the following:
“…to us it’s about life and death… to them it’s about money”
This attitude may seem tainted with wearied overtones but at its roots it is an astute summary of observed historical fact (illustrated by, for example, former Prime Ministers). Candidates for the ‘them’ could be civil servants, who are keepers of the established status quo or also could be individuals within pharmaceutical industry and the consensus attitudes of profit and ‘making a killing’ from a captive, sick and compromised audience.
Historically the risk of huge compensation claims for negligence and criminal cover-up has always outweighed the risk of justice for those poisoned by the State in the UK.
A neutral person looking at how innocent people have been afflicted and died would look at the legacy of impacts as well as current needs of those still living and their families. In other words, purse-string holders would be required to look at need, not budgets. And not just the current needs, though many, but also address the legacy of impacts felt by the infected and their families.
The Scottish Government accepted in full the conclusions and recommendations of the recently published ‘Clinical Review of the Impacts of Haptitis C‘, which stated:
“For most, however, the dominant message conveyed was a strong perception that hepatitis C had seriously compromised their ability to reach their full potential – professionally, socially and financially.”
“There was a general agreement that the England model, i) did not take account of the past impacts of hepatitis C on the current and future lives of infected people and their widows/widowers/civil partners”
“The Group recognises that there is a gap between the awards … but is of the view that the extent of the difference between the current awards … is inconsistent with the difference between the cumulative past (and future) lifetime impacts of hepatitis C experienced by those with and without advanced hepatitis C. The Group considers that this inconsistency is unfair and inappropriate, and should be addressed commensurately.”
“The impacts of hepatitis C on many spouses or partners of those living and widows/ widowers/civil and long-term partners of those deceased are very substantial, regardless of chronic hepatitis C/advanced hepatitis C … In the context of the life changing impacts of hepatitis C on infected individuals, the burden on many of their partners and the widows/widowers/partners of those deceased—a burden which was particularly evident in conversations with SIBSS beneficiaries – must be recognised.”
Government with one eye on budgets tend to look at present needs only, however evidence from studies and testimony from anecdotal stories of survivors show both eyes should look at the legacy of impacts and the present need of the infected and their families.
Names and labels often do not give a full picture, for example Civil Servants of all nationalities and persuasions are there to ‘serve civilians’ are they not, but they serve the established status quo, of commitments, of structures, avoiding precedent setting, and avoiding exposure to future claims in a litigious society (a feeding frenzy). They have jobs to do, they have to look after the national household budget, no easy task, they have to prioritise things … and they do it well.