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.
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.