Category Archives: National Services Scotland

Scottish Government formally announces launch of the Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme

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Today, the Scottish Government has issued a press release “Support for those affected by infected blood.”

The press release says,

New scheme launches.

The new Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme is now operational and will make its first payments to beneficiaries this month.

The scheme, managed by NHS National Services Scotland (NSS), has taken over this role from the existing UK support schemes as a result of the recommendations made by the independent Scottish Financial Review Group in December 2015.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

“The needs of patients and their families are very much at the heart of the new Scottish payment system, which will deliver improved support for those affected by infected blood in Scotland.

“The new scheme recognises that their needs are complex and will continue to change over time. It will be more responsive to them, simplifying the approach to support which was previously delivered by several different UK organisations.

“The Scottish Government is committed to doing all we can to help the people affected by this terrible chapter in the history of our health service. We remain the only country in the UK to have held a full public inquiry and I’m proud that we can now offer the most generous package of support in the UK to those infected and their families.”

CEO of Haemophilia Scotland, Dan Farthing-Sykes said:

“The increased payments that have already been received have made a big difference to the lives of many of those affected. Many of our members have chosen to free themselves from some of the debt that had built up as a result of years of inadequate support.

“Haemophilia Scotland is committed to working closely with the Scottish Government to make the new Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme as simple and user friendly as possible.

“There is still work to do to fully implement the recommendations of the Financial Support Review Group but the launch of the new scheme today is a very significant and welcome step on that journey.”

The Financial Review Support Group Final Report, which has been fully accepted by the Scottish Government, says that the scheme should keep means testing to a minimum.  How that can be achieved without endangering payments to those on the lowest incomes is going to be one of the largest challenges for the new scheme.

We are expecting to hear more details about the Clinical Review Group under Professor David Goldberg once the Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme is launched. The Clinical Review Group recommendation will be vital.  They will cover what non-liver health impacts will be taken into account for those applying for the on-going advanced payments (Stage 2).  They will also guide the scheme in determining which of the widow(er)s of those who died at Stage 1 will be entitled to the widow(er)s on-going payment.  Once this work is complete attention will turn to the terms for those who want to exchange their entitlement for on-going support for a one of payment in final settlement.

Update on Scottish Contaminated Blood Support Payments

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Scottish Government, St Andrew’s House, Edinburgh

 

Before the end of 2016 the Alliance House organisations and the Scottish Government were prioritising payments to those already in their systems who were due money for the financial year 2016/17.

All those who returned the forms by the deadline received payments. An extra £12.5millions was paid out by Scottish Government, over and above the £2.5 million via the Skipton Fund, Caxton Foundation, and MFT paid in previous years.

  • The vast majority was used in increasing the Skipton Stage 1 payment from £20,000 to £50,000. 330 payments of £30,000 were made to people in Stage 1.
  • The distinction between Stage 1 and Stage 2 was removed for those who are co-infected with Hepatitis C and HIV.  All of these people are now treated the same.  Stage 2 lump sum payments of £50,000 were made in 11 cases.  We believe that all of these were people with a bleeding disorder.
  • 138 people who are having their on-going payments increased received lump sums backdating the increase to April 2016.

We know that the end of last year was very frustrating for many of our members who didn’t know when they would be receiving their payments.  However, there was a lot of work and negotiation going on behind the scenes to get these payments out before the end of the year and we are grateful to the officials who worked hard to get these payments out before Christmas.

We know that there are still some people who haven’t returned their forms.  If you haven’t returned your form and need some help or haven’t received a form and think you should have please get in touch with Dan Farthing-Sykes in the office on 0131 524 7286 or dan@haemophilia.scot.

The next challenge is to make sure that the transition to the new Scottish support scheme is as smooth as possible.  The new scheme will be administered by National Services Scotland (NSS) which is a Scotland-wide health board.  This is a big change from the UK-wide scheme which were non-government organisations.  The new Scottish scheme is being delivered by part of NHS Scotland.  As such it will be directly accountable to the Scottish Government.  National Services Scotland have launched a webpage where you can keep up to date with progress towards the launch of the new Scheme.

As part of this process NSS are setting up an Advisory Group which will help the scheme administrators make sure their systems are as sensitive as possible to the needs of the people receiving the support.  If you are interested in joining the Advisory Group please email NSS on NSS.SIBSS@nhs.net.

We have had some concerns that the Advisory Group wasn’t going to be well equipped to deal with the outstanding policy issue.  However, we have received assurances from the Scottish Government that they will continue to take the lead on this work themselves and will involve those affected as much as possible.

The outstanding policy issues from the Financial Support Review Report are,

  1. Lump Sum Conversion. Recipients of the on-going annual payments should have the option of converting these into a one-off lump sum payment by way of final settlement.
  2. Insurance. Access to insurance products, and additional loading of premiums due to infections, should be given further consideration.
  3. Regular Review. The operation of the schemes should be subject to periodic review in conjunction with beneficiaries.
  4. Threshold Review. The current thresholds for Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the Skipton Fund should be the subject of a specific, evidence-based review to create new criteria based on health impact, rather than focusing predominantly on liver damage.
  5. Hepatitis C deaths review. This review should also thoroughly evaluate the criteria for attributing HCV to the cause of death, including death certificate data.
  6. Stage 0 applications. Applicants may have historically been rejected from the Skipton Fund without sufficient justification, openness and transparency. It should be open to these applicants to reapply to the new scheme using more uniform, published principles. A future review should consider suitable principles for the evaluation and decision-making process.

We understand that the Scottish Government are already working on establishing a group who will work on issues 4 and 5, reviewing the threshold between the stages and the criteria for attributing a death to hepatitis C. We are hopeful that more details will be announced before the end of February.

We further understand that the policy development work to establish the criteria for applications to the new discretionary grants will also be lead by the Scottish Government rather than by NSS itself.

We have been disappointed to learn that the widows of those who died at Stage 1 of the Skipton Fund process are not currently eligible for the additional £30,000 payment to bring them in line with the new Stage 1 lump sum for those who are still alive.  Our Chair, Bill Wright, has been exchanging letters with the Cabinet Secretary making the case for widows to receive this money.  However, the Scottish Government’s position that this will not be revisited until the schemes are reviewed. We are continuing to explore ways in which Stage 1 widows can be better supported financially under the new scheme.