Yesterday, Haemophilia Scotland’s Chair, Bill Wright was one of more than 25 contaminated blood and blood product campaigners who attending a meeting with the UK Government at the Cabinet Office in London. Our post from yesterday explains how the meeting came about.
Feeding back after the meeting Bill said,
In response to an invitation from Minister for the UK Cabinet Office Oliver Dowden MP, I travelled to London to meet him and Department of Health Public Health Minister Nadine Dorries MP along with 20 odd other campaign group / charity leaders.
The meeting was taking place in response to the Infected Blood Inquiry Chair’s call for an end to the financial hardship faced by survivors as a consequence of the disaster. The scope of the meeting was limited to the current financial support schemes and was not intended to extend into the question of ‘legal damages’ type compensation.
The point was made to the Ministers and officials that if Scotland was to reach ‘parity’ under particular categories where payments are less than other parts of the UK then the Treasury would have to be engaged to come up with the necessary input.
The Scottish scheme, unlike the rest of the UK, also avoids means testing and a plea was made to consider extending that UK wide. Other campaigners also wanted an end means testing UK wide and were scathing about the DWP assessments that compounded their hardship and problems.
Ministers have undertaken to respond within a couple of weeks to the many complaints raised during the meeting.
The UK Government also releases a statement after the meeting. A Cabinet Office spokesperson said:
“The infected blood scandal should never have happened and we established this inquiry so that all those who suffered can get the answers they deserve.
“Today Ministers from the Cabinet Office and Department for Health and Social Care met with groups representing those infected and affected by this tragedy. Campaigners raised a number of issues about the support that would assist them outside of the inquiry process. Ministers have committed to looking at these issues carefully and to report back on where rapid progress can be made.”
The release from the UK Government also gave the following lines.
- We are taking forward concerns about differing financial support schemes across the UK and will be discussing these with the devolved administrations as a matter of urgency and are doing all we can to achieve greater parity of support across the UK.
- Last year, DHSC announced a major uplift in financial support available to beneficiaries of the infected blood support scheme in England. (More information is available here.)
- Yesterday the Northern Ireland Executive announced an increase in payments to the Northern Ireland beneficiaries of the Infected Blood Payment Scheme (more information here).
- The Infected Blood Inquiry can make recommendations about where responsibility lies, and on that basis, what the infected and affected should be entitled to. The Inquiry was set up to establish the truth, and once it is established we can and will listen to the recommendations that follow.