Contaminated blood support scheme: PM must act

Written by Aaron Dennis, May 10, 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to intervene to improve the financial support system for people infected and affected by the contaminated blood scandal.

The Government had promised to address campaigners’ concerns about inequalities in the Infected Blood Payment Scheme before the Infected Blood Inquiry began its witness hearings on April 30, 2019.

However, today’s letter from The Haemophilia Society and 11 other campaigners and campaign organisations including Haemophilia Scotland, Haemophilia Wales and Haemophilia Northern Ireland, says the Government’s response, rushed out on the eve of the Inquiry, left campaigners feeling frustrated and had dashed hopes that their concerns would be addressed.

The joint letter to the Prime Minister says: “Many of our members in each of our groups have learned of the Government’s new proposals with a mixture of disappointment, anger and frustration with expectations dashed yet again. Considerable work remains to be done to reach the targets intended effectively. “

It continues: “As Prime Minister we ask you to demonstrate, by meeting with us in person, that this is a matter of real priority to you and the Government as a whole and to discuss the scope for making the Government’s provisions more effective.”

The current infected blood support schemes for people infected and affected by the contaminated blood scandal have long been criticised by campaigners for regional inequalities, means testing and the exclusion of some bereaved relatives.

The campaigners, including The Society’s chair of trustees, Clive Smith, met in January with Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention Jackie Doyle-Price MP, and Minister for the Cabinet Office, The Rt. Hon David Lidington MP to discuss their concerns.

Just hours before the Infected Blood Inquiry was due to get underway, the Government announced that £30m would be made available to boost the support scheme. However, this only applied to England and did not address means testing or the exclusion of bereaved parents or carers from payments. While the extra cash was welcomed, The Haemophilia Society said it did not go far enough.

Clive Smith, chair of trustees of The Haemophilia Society, said: “As the eyes of the world are finally focussed on the contaminated blood scandal and the devastation that it has caused to thousands of families, we urge Prime Minister Theresa May to look again at providing a fair financial support scheme for those infected and affected.

“The time has come for her to personally intervene to ensure that all those infected and affected by this appalling treatment disaster are not left having to jump through unnecessary hoops, simply to get the financial support they are already entitled to.”

You can read the letter in full here.