Contaminated Blood Update from the Scottish Government

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As soon as Shona Robison MSP was reappointed as Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing, and Sport, we wrote to her asking about progress on implementing the new contaminated blood support payments for Scotland and other recommendations. We have just received a reply which gives details about the current situation.

You can read her letter in full here.

In summary her letter says,

  • The Scottish Government is negotiating with the UK Government to use the current, UK-wide, schemes (such as the Skipton Fund and MFT) to make the new payments without having to wait for the new Scottish scheme to be set up.  Until the negotiations are finished they can’t say when they payments will start.
  • They are also working to ensure the payments are treated fairly for tax and benefit purposes.
  • Their is an issue about being able to backdate some of the new payments without them being liable for income tax.
  • A decision on how the new Scottish scheme will be delivered will be taken over the summer and it will be up and running in 2017.
  • The clinical review group, which will look at the eligibility criteria for the schemes ,including access to ongoing payments and the widow’s pension, will be set up once the interim arrangement are up an running.  As well as clinicians it will include lay people and academics.
  • Work on being able to convert an entitlement to a lump sum will start as soon as possible.
  • The Penrose Short Life Working Group is working on how to trace and offering testing to people who may not know they were infected.  The Scottish Government are expecting to receive their report soon.

We are hoping to meet the Scottish Government as soon as possible to discuss these issues.  We have also written to the Department of Health (England) and several Scottish MPs calling for the negotiations to be concluded quickly so that people can start receiving the new payments as soon as possible. We are hoping to travel to London to reinforce this point.

Shona Robison in the Scottish Parliament

26 Mar 2015, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK — Edinburgh, United Kingdom. 26th March 2015 — Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health Shona Robison makes a ministerial statement in the Scottish Parliament after the publication of the Penrose Inquiry on the contaminated blood scandal. — Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison in a ministerial statement on the Penrose Inquiry into NHS patients being infected with Hepatitis C and HIV through contaminated blood in the 70s and 80s, has promised continued support for victims. — Image by © Ken Jack/Demotix/Corbis

 

 

 

 

3 comments

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  • Thank you for keeping us informed of these important events. Is there any way they can re-consider the terms of who to include in the Scotland Scheme. Currently it is assessed on where you were infected. Is there any way they could get round this so that those who live in Scotland are included.

    I still don’t understand how England can pay people who were infected by the same NHS UK lower amounts than Scotland. How is this legally allowed? I am still not getting it! I know you have tried to explain it to me but I still do not understand. I know at least one person who was infected in England but has lived in Scotland for years who is taking legal action. I hope his case is successful.

    • Obviously, there has to be some way of deciding which Government is responsible for which cases. It has to be the same rule across the board so that people can’t just pick the best criteria for them and apply to the scheme which would give them the most options. There are basically three theoretical options.

      1. Where you were infected?
      2. Where you live?
      3. What was the origin of the blood or blood product which caused the infection?

      There are problems with all the options as you can think of people who would miss out or fall between the gaps. If you go for where people live, for example, you’d have to have a system that stopped people just moving to the jurisdiction which gave them the most support. If you went by product then you’d have to decide who paid for the people whose first exposure was from a commercial product produced abroad. What would happen in the cases where medical records have been destroyed so people don’t know which product they were infected with? In all cases, those who lost out compared with the current arrangements might start legal actions.

      Therefore, there isn’t any plan to change how the responsibility for payment is currently divided between the Governments in the UK. At the moment the Scottish Government pays the Skipton Fund and Caxton Foundation bills for the people infected in Scotland. This has been the case since those schemes were set up. This hasn’t had much attention until now however as it hasn’t made any difference to what people have received. The plan is to continue with this approach.

      In terms of how it is legally allowed this comes back to all the payments being part of ex-gratia schemes. There is no admission of liability implicit in making the payments. They are being made because the Governments have decided that those infected should be given some financial support rather than because they have been forced to by a court. This means it is a decision of each UK Health Department (England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland) how much support they want to give. Scotland has decided to give more than England and that is why there is a discrepancy between the two schemes. It doesn’t imply that the disaster was worse in Scotland only that the Scottish Government has assigned more resources to the support payments.

      If there were a successful legal challenge to any aspect of all this of course the Government or Governments affected would have to look at things again.

      I hope that is clearer although I appreciate it won’t make it seem any fairer to those who have been living in Scotland a long time and face receiving less money than friends and neighbours.

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