Scottish Government timetable for #ContaminatedBlood financial support payments

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The road to improved financial support payments has already been long and winding.

Last week, those who represented the patient point of view during the financial support review group met with Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing, and Sport.  Several of us had been raising serious concerns about the fact that the new payments, announced in March, have not started yet.  Many Haemophilia Scotland members are in urgent need of this additional support. Every day of delay causes additional stress and anxiety.

At the meeting we were told that different groups can expect payments at different times.  If you are currently receiving a payment then the increase is estimated to come in October 2016. However, this timetable is subject to the issues set out below.  For example, the boards of the UK-wide bodies have not yet agreed to this timetable.

Those who will get a new support payment will have to wait until the new Scottish scheme is set up in April 2017.

Following the meeting, the Scottish Government have produced this short paper which details the expected timetable and gives more information.

Payments expected in October 2016 (backdated to April 2016 where applicable)

  • Stage 1 payment to increase from £20,000 to £50,000 (an additional £30,000 for those already in the scheme).
  • Stage 2 payments to increase from £14,749 to £27,000.
  • HIV payment to increase from to £27,000
  • Co-infected payment to increase from £14,749 £29,498 to £37,000

Payments to be start with the new scheme in April 2017 (not backdated)

  • Widow(er)s’ pensions
  • The new Scottish discretionary grants.  This will replace the Caxton Foundation and the discretionary element of the MacFarlane Trust (MFT). It will honour existing commitments from these successor organisations.

After April 2017 payments will be made from Scotland.  The scheme is likely to be administered by National Services Scotland (NSS) which is effectively an all Scotland NHS Health Board.  There will be an advisory group including stakeholders but other governance arrangements aren’t clear yet.

Issues to be overcome before October 2016

Before the UK schemes can be used to make the new Scottish payments there are some hurdles to be overcome.  These are what are causing the current delays.

  • Westminster must pass Tax Orders so that none of the payments are liable for tax.  This has to happen whichever mechanism is used to make the new payments.
  • To use the existing scheme to make the new payments all four nations of the UK must agree.  At the moment only Scotland is signed up.  We have asked all three of the other Government not to stand in the way of Scottish payments and have had these replies from England and Wales.  There have also been two stories in The Sunday Herald to put pressure on England in particular.
  • For the payments to be made in October there must also be agreement from the Boards of the UK-wide schemes.

Issues to be overcome before April 2017

Before the Scottish scheme is established there are some important decision to be taken including,

  • Changes to the threshold for receiving ongoing support.  The threshold is to depend on whole health impact of infection rather than focusing on liver damage alone.
  • A reexamination of the ability of those with incomplete medical records to apply.
  • An appeals procedure for those who think they should be in the Scottish scheme.
  • A procedure for converting ongoing payments into a lump sum settlement.
  • How the new discretionary scheme will operate in practice.

Groups will be established shortly to look at these points.

This article was amended on 19 August 2016 following a request from the Scottish Government make it clearer that at the time of publication none of the boards of the UK-wide bodies had given formal agreement to implement the new Scottish payments.

NOhep Day 2016

Dan Farthing-Sykes, Jeff Frew, Robert Girvan, Sam Baker, Shona Robison MSP, Petra Wright. Credit: Petra Wright, Hep C Trust.

10 comments

  • Thank you Dan Kind regards, Harry

  • Hi Dan, Me again with a query.Re changes to threshold for ongoing support. Does this apply to new applicants only or will I as a recipient of stage 2 for a number of years have to undergo further tests?

    Fill yer boots Harry

    • Hello Harry,

      The intention is that everyone infected in Scotland who is currently receiving Stage 2 on-going payments will automatically get the new Scottish on-going payment. It is a fundamental principle of the changes in Scotland that nobody should be worse off under the new scheme than they are under the current scheme.

      The purpose of the review is to recognise that the damage caused by the hepatitis C virus isn’t limited to the liver. There are people who have only received the Stage 1 payment who have been seriously damaged by the virus but don’t quite have the level of liver damage required to get Skipton Stage 2. The review will look for a fair way of expending support to them.

      So, nobody currently receiving Stage 2 payments should have to do more than fill in some basic forms consenting to be part of the new scheme. You won’t be asked to undertake any further tests.

      Dan

  • Hi Dan,

    How does this new support scheme affect those of us who were infected with Hepatitis C and then cleared the virus following interferon treatment? Do we still need to be infected to qualify?

    Regards,

    Richard

    • Hello Richard,

      Clearing the virus isn’t relevant to receiving the new payments.

      To qualify for a Skipton 1 payment people must be able to demonstrate they were infected as a result of the contaminated blood disaster. Those who have already done that, and received £20,000, will qualify for the additional £30,000.

      To qualify for Skipton 2 payments people have demonstrated that they have qualified for Stage 1 and that they have advanced liver damage. The liver damage isn’t removed with successful treatment so they have continued to receive support even if a sustained virological response is achieved through treatment. All of the people who were infected in Scotland and currently receive Skipton 2 payments will qualify for the new Scottish ongoing payments. There will also be a review of the eligibility criteria to move from looking at liver damage to a system which takes account of all the damage to health caused by the hepatitis C virus – including to mental health. Again, it is the damage people have experienced which is relevant rather than whether the virus has been successfully treated or not.

      I hope that makes things clearer.

      All the best,

      Dan

  • Hello Dan the Scottish government stated that the new payments would start in October this has now past with no explanation . Is this just more broken promises that we have got use to.

    • The Scottish Government were confident that the necessary agreements with the Alliance House organisation would be in place in time to make payments by October. However, signing those agency agreements has taken longer than expected and October has passed without payments being made. As a result nobody is prepared to make a new prediction about when payments will be made.

  • Hi Dan could I ask one question I am on stage 2 and have been for a number of years so to get on stage 2 had to go through stage 1 and received the first £20,000 can you tell me if the people on stage 2 will receive the extra £30,000 for stage 1.

    • Hello Stephen,

      The full combined stages lump sum payments are currently £70,000 (£20,000 at stage 1 and £50,000 at stage 2). That isn’t changing, the difference now is that people will get more of it at stage 1 (£50,000 at stage 1 and £20,000 at stage 2). If you have already received both lump sum payments because you are already at stage 2 then you won’t be entitled to another lump sum (other than the back payment of the increased on-going support payment to April of course).

      I hope that helps even if it isn’t the answer I expect you were hoping for.

      Dan

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