The Government’s announcement that an extra £30m is to be allocated to contaminated blood support schemes is to be welcomed, but it is not yet clear if it measures up to the demands of The Haemophilia Society and other campaign groups.
The Society and 11 other campaigners, plus peers and MPs asked the Government to urgently overhaul the contaminated blood support schemes so that those affected would not need to worry about their financial situation for the duration of the Infected Blood Inquiry, which opens today.
Today’s announcement is a sign that the Government is beginning to listen, but we fear it may not address our key concerns about the support schemes. We do not feel this announcement will result in the end of means-testing and, as it only applies to England, does not tackle the variations in support across the UK. There is no indication at this stage that the criterion for receiving support will vastly change to include, for example, parents, people who were bereaved as children and others who do not qualify under the current system.
As the eyes of the world focus on the Infected Blood Inquiry today, we do not believe it is right or fair that these inequalities in support for our affected community still exist and we urge the Government to work with The Society and the campaign groups, to ensure it achieves the objectives set out when meeting back in January.
Chair of trustees, Clive Smith, said: “While we welcome the significant increase in funding, we will need to work with Government to further understand the details of what this means for our community. We have to ensure that this extra funding will raise the minimum payment to an acceptable level to allow people to achieve a minimum standard of living during such an incredibly stressful period.”
“The Society asks the Government to urgently produce more detail on how this funding will be allocated and asks it to look again at getting rid of means-testing so that those affected by today’s Infected Blood Inquiry do not have to go cap in hand for money which they should automatically be entitled to.
“We ask the Government to work with the devolved nations and the campaign groups to achieve a satisfactory outcome as soon as is practically possible”.