Category Archives: Campaign Meetings

Langstaff Inquiry launches website and consultation on Terms of Reference

The statutory Public Inquiry into infected blood and blood products, under Sir Brian Langstaff, has just launched it’s website at www.infectedbloodinquiry.org.uk

The site gives some high level details about the Inquiry and a little more information about Sir Brian Langstaff.  However, the main content at the moment is a consultation on the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry.  The consultation was launched at the end of yesterday and runs until 26 April.

On the Inquiry website you will find,

Haemophilia Scotland will be working with independent campaigners in Scotland and the Scottish Infected Blood Forum (SIBF) to make a consultation response highlighting the Scottish dimensions to the consultation questions.  As well as using the Scottish Position Paper we published in October, we will be holding a joint members meeting so that everyone in Scotland can discuss the issues raised by the Inquiry consultation together.  We will publicise the details of that meeting as soon as it is confirmed.

 

Lessons to be learned for panel of Infected Blood Inquiry

Today, the Cabinet Office made a statement on the upcoming Infected Blood Inquiry.  They said,

As the Government announced last month, a full statutory inquiry into the infected blood scandal will be established under the 2005 Inquiries Act, and sponsored by the Cabinet Office. The inquiry will have full powers, including the power to compel the production of documents, and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath.

We are today setting out the next steps.

The Cabinet Office has now completed its analysis of the responses to the consultation on the format of the statutory Inquiry into infected blood announced in July. In addition a series of roundtable meetings were held earlier this month with individuals and groups representing those affected.

The Government committed to making an announcement regarding the Chair of the inquiry before Christmas, taking into account the views we have received. We are therefore announcing today our intention to appoint a judge to Chair the inquiry. We will make a further statement on who that judge will be in the New Year and we will be discussing with them the composition of the Inquiry panel.

We would like to thank each and every person who took the time to respond to the consultation, and to share their views and experiences. We understand how difficult these issues must have been to describe and we a

re grateful for the frankness and honesty with which people have shared their experiences. The responses to the consultation have been carefully considered by Cabinet Office officials. We can assure the House and everyone who contributed that the findings will be passed to the proposed Chair to help inform the discussions regarding the draft Terms of Reference, on which we expect there will be further consultation.

In accordance with the Inquiries Act 2005, colleagues in the Devolved Administrations will be consulted as the Terms of Reference are finalised.

A further statement will be made in the New Year.

Haemophilia Scotland has responded by appealing for Inquiry Panel Members who are able to fully dedicate themselves to challenging role.

We have cautiously welcomed the UK Government’s announcement on appointment of  a chair and panel, stressing the lessons we learned from the six-year long Penrose Inquiry in Scotland.

Haemophilia Scotland Chair, Bill Wright, has said,

In view of the forced resignation of the First Secretary it remains vital that the right Chair and Panel are appointed to lead the Inquiry. When we recently met Mr Green and senior officials in the Cabinet Office it was evident that substantial work had been done but there were still significant decisions to be made. Given that under the Inquiries Act, there are very clear duties upon Ministers in reporting plans to Parliament, appointing a panel and defining Terms of Reference and a setting up date we trust that discussions to appoint potential Panel members are ongoing with Officials. We look forward to meeting with Mr Green’s replacement.

The Panel members and Chair need to be not only able, but also very willing, to take on a formidable task. It is therefore no surprise, from the experience we had in Scotland, that time is having to be allowed to ensure that panel members are not pressed into positions they are reluctant to accept. Instead they need to be willing to ta

ke on an onerous role and dedicate themselves to it over potentially a number of years without alternative distraction. We have waited decades for this Inquiry. We now need the best people to lead it, in terms of appointing Minister, Panel, Chair, assessors and supporting staff.

Today’s announcement makes the upcoming joint campaign meeting with the Scottish Infected Blood Forum on 20th January in Glasgow even more important.  The meeting will be the first opportunity affected people in Scotland will have to come together and discuss our collective view since the announcement.  If you are planning to attend please register so we can make sure we have a large enough room to accommodate everyone.

 

Cabinet Office

Meeting with Damian Green ‘positive and cordial’

Bill Wright, Chair of Haemophilia Scotland, today joined representatives from groups campaigning on the contaminated blood and blood products campaign issue across the UK in London to meet The Rt Hon Damian Green MP, First Secretary of State, to discuss the upcoming Public Inquiry.

There were two meetings (morning and afternoon) and organisations were limited to a single representative so that there would be time for everyone who attended to speak. Bill attended on behalf of Haemophilia Scotland in the afternoon meeting which included representatives from,

The meeting was told to expect an announcement on who would be the Chair and on any panel before Christmas.  No specifics on the Terms of Reference (ToR) were discussed but they are likely to be published in draft with the opportunity to comment on them in early 2018.  The Cabinet Office were asked to provide funding for the relevant legal teams to be able to assist affected people with feeding into that process.

Bill highlighted the importance of having a Panel as described by Section 3 (1) (b) of the Inquires Act as an Inquiry being conducted “by a chairman with one or more other members.”  This sort of panel would have shared responsibility for conducting the Inquiry and signing off the report (as detailed in Section 24 (4) of the Inquiries Act).  We consider this is vital to having a fast paced Inquiry with the appropriate expertise and openness while avoiding the difficulties we faced during the Penrose Inquiry.

To help emphasise the importance of engaging with all affected people around the UK, Bill also referred to Section 18 (1) of the Inquiries Act to argue for the proceedings to be streamed live online.  This is vital to make sure that those who cannot travel because of poor health, finances, geography, or other responsibilities can “see and hear a simultaneous transmission of proceedings at the inquiry.”

Commenting straight after the meeting Bill Wright, Chair of Haemophilia Scotland, said,

We had a positive and cordial meeting. Damian Green confirmed a Chair will be announced before Christmas but further members of the panel may not be announced until the new year.

There was general agreement on the pace of proceedings from now on. It was acknowledged that the next stage and the Inquiry itself must be opened up much more widely than those who attended. Much work remains to be done but this was a good step forward.

Passing bus

Selfies aren’t as easy as they look when you are trying to focus on the upcoming meeting.

 

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.

Joint Campaigns Meeting with Haemophilia Scotland and the Scottish Infected Blood Forum (SIBF)

Joint_Members_Meeting-960x750_edited

On October 14, between 11am-1pm, Haemophilia Scotland and the Scottish Infected Blood Forum are jointly hosting a campaign meeting in Glasgow for anyone interested in the contaminated blood and blood products disaster in Scotland.

This will be a chance for people to come together in Scotland and discuss issues ranging from their experience of the new Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme and how it can be improved.

The venue, Mercure Glasgow City Hotel, is located near George Square in the city centre and is accessible by train, bus or car. For more details see:https://www.mercureglasgow.co.uk/

Register now to secure your space.

Joint Contaminated Blood and Blood Products Campaign Meeting Report

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Saturday the 26th August, Haemophilia Scotland and the Scottish Infected Blood Forum held a joint meeting to discuss a collective response to the announcement that there will be a UK Public Inquiry into the contaminated blood and blood products disaster.

The meeting was well attended by affected people, including independent campaigners, from across Scotland. Members of the legal team who represented the patient interest during the Penrose Inquiry also took part.

The clear view of the meeting was that,

  1. The UK Public Inquiry should be a Statutory Inquiry but framed to be as flexible and responsive to affected peoples’ concerns as possible. In particular,
    1. The Inquiry should be under a panel rather than a lone Chair.
    2. The investigation should be segmented rather than linear. There should be milestones so that as each aspect is dealt with a preliminary recommendation can be made so that the appropriate bodies can respond immediately. Panel members could be selected with a view to them leading particular aspects of the investigation. This could stop the Inquiry taking longer than necessary.
    3. Many more affected people should be able to give oral evidence than were permitted to during the Penrose Inquiry.
    4. Patients and patient representative need to be fully involved at all stages from establishing the Inquiry, through how it is conducted and reports, to the implementation of its recommendations.
    5. Be accessible to people all over the UK including holding public hearings in all four nations and streaming the proceedings online.
  2. There are particular Scottish elements to the disaster which must be represented in the UK Inquiry. Scotland has had its own NHS, blood transfusion service, and legal system throughout the disasters. Specifically, there must be Scottish Core Participants and separate legal representation.
  3. All Scottish campaign organisations and individuals should work together as much as possible to maintain a clear Scottish position in relation to the Inquiry and the disaster. We should engage with the process of establishing the Inquiry as early as possible to be able to influence the terms of reference.
  4. There are important lessons to learn from the Scottish experience of the Penrose Inquiry including,
    1. that the Terms of Reference need to be very specific and clearly direct the Inquiry Chair and Panel to examine the key areas of concern for the community, and make recommendations. Terms of reference which require general investigation are vulnerable to be interpreted so as not to require the specifics to be examined.
    2. The Chair and Panel should be young enough, and foreseeably well enough, to complete the work while in good health.
    3. Once the Chair and Panel are appointed they will have a lot of power. It is important not to rush to appoint an inappropriate Chair or Panel Member but to appoint people who are acceptable to those affected.
  5. The Inquiry should be focused on bringing out the whole truth and the terms of reference should include,
    1. Who is accountable?
      • Were there actions which could lead to criminal/civil prosecutions or further disciplinary action?
      • The Inquiry must be able to investigate the actions of Ministers. Was action delayed and if so why?
      • Investigate whether systems and procedures were appropriate and not just whether they were followed.
    2. All viruses and prions including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, and CJD.
    3. Have all appropriate lessons been learnt and if so what specifically has changed? Should include a full risk assessment.
    4. The development and use of pooled plasma derived clotting factor products.
    5. Protecting the safety of the blood supply, including surrogate testing and donor exclusion.
    6. Consent for research, testing, and using stored samples.
    7. Communication of risk and infected status. Were patients fully informed and included in decision making.
    8. Whether evidence was removed by the destruction or alteration of medical records or other relevant files.
    9. The impact of the disaster.
      • Financial losses and on-going financial support needs, including insurance costs.
      • Health of those infected (from fatigue and brain fog to death), their families, and their sexual partners.
      • On-going no financial support needs of all those affected.
  6. It is vital not to lose focus on working to improve the Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme (SIBSS).

Several people who spoke at the meeting made it clear that if there was an unsuitable Chair, Panel, or Terms of Reference then they wouldn’t be prepared to engage with the process.

Haemophilia Scotland and the Scottish Infected Blood Forum will be working together with members and independent campaigners to develop the views of the meeting into a comprehensive Scottish position.

BREAKING NEWS

A venue has been set for the meeting between Bishop James Jones and affected people on the 12th September (11:30 for a 12:20 start). It will be at BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP.