Haemophilia Scotland’s Chair, Bill Wright, is one of a group of over 25 campaigners from all over the UK who are meeting with UK Government Ministers today.
The meeting is the latest development in an unfolding story that began back in October 2018 when Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, wrote to the UK Government calling for “decisive action” to improve financial support to infected and affected people.
In this post we set out the twists and turns since then which have brought us to today’s meeting. It is worth remembering that these events are not part of any formal process of consultation in start contrast to the work of the Scottish Infected Blood Financial Review Group which followed the publication of the Penrose Report and led to the establishment of the Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme with higher levels of financial support.
The story so far…
The Government replies to Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry committing to respond “as soon as possible.”
The UK Government meets with 12 campaigners they invited from across the UK to discuss their response to Sir Brian’s challenge. The 12 campaigners agree a common position for the meeting.
Three months after the meeting there has been no action so the 12 campaigns write to the Government urging urgent action.
To coincide with the start of the Infected Blood Inquiry campaign oral hearings, and with no prior consultation on specifics with campaigners or devolved Governments, the UK Government announce improvements for the English financial support scheme but no new money for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The 12 campaigners write directly to the Prime Minister raising their concerns. Scottish scheme in still proportionately providing the most support to the community. This is largely because it makes regular payments to widows for life without means testing unlike in other parts of the UK. However, following the changes the payments to many infected people are now higher in England.
Days before leaving Downing Street the Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Theresa May MP replies to the campaigners setting out her approach but omitting Scotland from her list of devolved nations, despite the disparity created by the announcement of new money for the English scheme in May.
The new Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, is written to by 11 of the 12 campaigners urging progress.
The 12 campaigners write to the Prime Minister again asking him to make financial support a key priority.
The Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, replies saying he has asked Oliver Dowden MP to issue a substantive reply as the Minister responsible for the Infected Blood Inquiry.
The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office with responsibility for the Infected Blood Inquiry, replies asking for a meeting. This is the meeting taking place today.
Sir Brian Langstaff, Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry, refers to the lack of progress towards improving financial support saying “The grinding hardship of many is not put on hold while the inquiry continues.” p169-170
The Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Leader of the House of Commons, replied to an oral business question from Diana Johnson MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Group on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood. He omitted Scotland from the list of devolved nations.