Category Archives: UK Government

UK Inquiry: The Scottish position and how to register for more information

Cabinet Table

Apologies for the longer than usual post but a lot has been going on in the run up to last week’s statement from the Prime Minister that the UK Contaminated Blood Inquiry was to be a Statutory Inquiry overseen by the Cabinet Office. 

Firstly, thank you to the many members of Haemophilia Scotland and the Scottish Infected Blood Forum (SIBF) who have come to recent campaign meetings and spoken to us about what they’d like to see from the UK Public Inquiry.

Using your comment, and our experience of the Penrose Inquiry, we have developed a joint position statement  which we believe reflects the views of the majority of affected people in Scotland.  We sent a copy to the UK Government on 11th October.

The Executive Summary summarises our position,

We support the establishment of an UK Public Inquiry and are proposing it has the following features,

1. The Inquiry be consulted on and established by the Cabinet Office or Ministry of Justice.

2. A statutory Inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act.

3. The Inquiry to be led by a Chair and Panel, rather than a Chair alone.

4. That there are Scottish Core Participants with Scottish legal representation.

5. The procedures of the Inquiry to be flexible and responsive to the needs of those infected including,
a) Those that wish to are able to give oral evidence.
b) Hearings are held in locations throughout the UK at accessible venues.
c) Proceedings are streamed live online.
d) The questions that affected people want to be asked can be put.
e) The privacy of those affected is protected.
f) Different topics should be investigated simultaneously, potentially under different members of the Panel, to allow the Inquiry to proceed quickly and make interim recommendations.

6. Terms of Reference that include,
i) All infections and pathogens.
ii) All use of plasma derived clotting factor products.
iii) Accountability and responsibility.
iv) Consent, communications, and risks.
v) Blood donor selection.
vi) Blood product selection.
vii) Impact on those affected.
viii) Access to justice.

We also provided a copy to the Scottish Government so that they had a clear understanding of the views of people in Scotland when they we discussing the Inquiry with the UK Government.

shona-robisonShona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport then met with Haemophilia Scotland and the SIBF.  She told us there had been a ministerial level conference call with Jackie Doyle-Price MP, which had discussed these issues.  We also talked about next steps including a proposed letter from the Cabinet Secretary to the Prime Minister.

Her letter to the Prime Minister, sent shortly after the meeting, raised the following points. It,

  1. Supported a Statutory Inquiry.
  2. Supported having a Panel rather than having a single Chair.
  3. Called for the Panel to have a say on the Terms of Reference having listened to those affected. She also asked for clarity over the process for setting the Terms of Reference and stressed the importance of building on the work of the Penrose Inquiry rather than duplicating it.
  4. Called for the Scottish Government, Haemophilia Scotland, and the Scottish Infected Blood Forum should be Core Participants of the Inquiry with legal representation.
  5. Urged that the Inquiry should be established as quickly as possible.

There has also been progress on legal issues.  At the recent joint Haemophilia Scotland / Scottish Infected Blood Forum members’ meeting we were pleased to announced an even closer working relationship with our legal team of Thompsons Solicitors, Simon Di Rollo QC, and Jamie Dawson.

PMcGuire-square-smallThompsons Solicitors have launched a new website so that affected people in Scotland can sign up for regular updates on the contaminated blood and blood products campaigning work of Haemophilia Scotland, SIBF, and Thompsons Solicitors.

You can register online at contaminatedbloodregister.co.uk or over the phone by calling 0800 081 0072.

At the meeting there was also an extremely useful discussion about the experience of people using the new Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme.  We will be working on these issues together and using them to prepare for the first periodic review of the scheme.

David GoldbergWe are also preparing for the start of the Clinical Review to be chaired by Prof. David Goldberg.  The group has been established by the Scottish Government as part of the implementation of the Financial Review Group recommendations.  The review will look at how to change the criteria from moving from the chronic to advanced levels of financial support from liver damage to whole health impact, how to assess whether a death is related to the virus for assessing entitlement to widow’s pension payments; and looking at the wider impact of chronic hepatitis C infection.

The review is being conducted in four streams,

  1. Describing characteristics of those at the chronic hepatitis C infection stage (previous stage 1).
  2. Examining latest scientific literature, in particular on chronic hepatitis C.
  3. Direct evidence from a random sample of Scottish people with chronic hepatitis C and widow(ers).
  4. Evidence on impact on health and wellbeing of those with chronic hepatitis C from a clinical and medical perspective.

The first meeting of the clinical review is scheduled for the end of November this year.

Response to Prime Ministerial statement on Contaminated Blood and Blood Products Inquiry

Theresa May

Today there have been media reports that the Prime Minister has announced more details about the UK Public Inquiry into contaminated blood and blood products.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister has confirmed that it is the intention of the Government for the Cabinet Office to establish a Statutory Inquiry.

Haemophilia Scotland CEO, Dan Farthing-Sykes responded to today’s statement saying,

In Scotland we have been calling for a statutory Inquiry under a panel rather than a lone Chair.  We also called for a department other than the Department of Health to establish the Inquiry and that the Inquiry provides for Scottish Core Participants with Scottish legal representation.

As a result, today’s statement from the Prime Minister is a welcome step in the right direction.  We are pleased that she has listened to the concerns of affected individuals and families and will hold a Statutory Inquiry established by the Cabinet Office.

However, perhaps the most important decisions still have to be taken.  We must have the right people appointed to the Inquiry panel and Terms of Reference which have the confidence of our community.  That can only be achieved by working with those affected.

The Terms of Reference must include both the events running up to the infections and the response to them.  The time frame must be long enough to cover all the infections associated with pooled plasma products including hepatitis B and CJD.  The unfinished business from the Penrose Inquiry must be completed.  The Penrose Report established important facts about the infections in Scotland but failed to follow them up with appropriate analysis or recommendations for the future. 

It will be extremely painful for those infected and their families to go through an Inquiry.  For many it will involve reliving the most painful memories.  It’s vital that they have appropriate support through the process and that their renewed suffering leads to concrete action.

It is hoped that a fuller statement will be laid in the House of Commons soon.

Joint statement ahead of meeting with Bishop James Jones

Today, representatives of both Haemophilia Scotland and the Scottish Infected Blood Forum will be in London to attend a meeting between people affected by contaminated blood and blood products and the former Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones.  We will be expressing the views of our members from our recent joint campaign meeting and have jointly issued the short statement below.

In our united view, the UK Public Inquiry should be a statutory Inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act. It should be conducted by a panel rather than a Chair and they should be appointed as soon as possible with appropriate input from affected people. The wrong Chair and Panel is worse than no Chair and Panel. There must be Scottish Core Participants and Scottish legal representation.

We want people to make their own decision about whether or not to attend the meeting with the Bishop. The Scottish charities are attending because we want to take opportunities to engage and put forward the Scottish perspective. Therefore, we are not boycott the meeting or planning to walk out of it. We take the Bishop at his word and believe him when he is says that he is making a genuine attempt to help.

Haemophilia Scotland and the Scottish Infected Blood Forum are both currently working with Thompsons Solicitors.

We continue to call for the Department of Health to step aside in favour of another Department taking the lead establishing a UK Inquiry.

Governments respond about UK Inquiry

UK from Space.jpg

On the 25th of July Haemophilia Scotland and the Scottish Infected Blood Forum (SIBF) wrote to Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister about the UK Public Inquiry into contaminated blood and blood products.

We have now received a reply on her behalf from Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, as the Minister responsible.

In her reply Shona Robison MSP,

  • Offered to take a more proactive role in advising the UK Government of the views of Scottish stakeholders if that would be helpful.
  • Agreed with our call for the procedures of the UK Inquiry to be accessible for people in Scotland.
  • Detailed information and support offered by Scotland to the process of establishing the UK Inquiry.
  • Declared her intention to continue to work closely with us in relation to the UK Inquiry.

Read her reply in full here.

We have also received a reply to Bill Wright’s letter of the 12th July to The Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Prime Minister, which was passed to Jackie Doyle-Price MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Care and Mental Health, as the Minister responsible.

In her reply Jackie Doyle-Price MP,

  • Welcomed our ideas on how the UK Inquiry could add value for people in Scotland.
  • Recognised that previous investigations have not gone far enough.
  • Explained that the UK Governments primary concern is to properly engage with those affected.
  • Encouraged us to make further submissions in writing.

Read her reply in full here. 

Following our joint campaign meeting it is clear that members want us to engage with the process of establishing the Public Inquiry and to try and influence the terms of reference to learn from our experience of the Penrose Inquiry.  We are keen to have an open dialogue with both Governments so that the views of people in Scotland are heard. However, we continue to believe that the Department of Health (UK) are an inappropriate partner for those discussions.