Members of the APPG met with the Public Health Minister earlier this month. A number of issues were discussed, including compensation and how this should be administered; access to drugs and (in particular new Hepatitis C drugs) and other NHS treatments. The MPs who were present at the meeting stressed the need for the Government to act on this quickly. They also stressed the need for a compensation system that is fair, meaningful and conclusive; that recognises the long-term suffering of those impacted and doesn’t unfairly discriminate between different affected groups. This must include family members and widows. We are clear this requires a complete change in the way the support arrangements are administered. We also discussed the Irish Health card to assist in accessing timely treatment and whether this could be adopted in the UK.
No firm conclusions were made as this was a consultative meeting. However, following the meeting the Department of Health did produce a note of the meeting, click here to read the document.
One concern that was raised by MPs the meeting, but not resolved, was the Government’s insistence that any future support or compensation would have to be funded entirely from the Department of Health’s budget. The APPG has consistently argued that the contaminated blood scandal was a national treatment disaster, and so the money required to support those affected should come from Treasury reserves, as has happened with other national issues such as Equitable Life. I wrote to the Prime Minister on this point in September, and a letter in response can be read here. I think this letter is a positive step and the APPG will continue to make the case for the Treasury to provide funding directly.