Today, Jane Ellison MP, the Minister responsible for the contaminated blood issue for the UK Government, announced the start of the long awaited consultation on the financial support arrangements available in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The consultation has been published on the gov.uk website and will run for 12 weeks until the 15th April.
In her statement she made it clear that the proposed financial support is not compensation, and said that her approach was guided by four principles,
- Focus on those infected.
- Respond to new advances in medicine.
- Provide choice where possible.
- Maintain annual payments for everyone currently receiving them.
The Department of Health proposals are substantially different from the Scottish proposals being considered north of the border.
In summary, the Department of Health are suggesting the following changes,
- Increase in the maximum annual ongoing payment for people with Hepatitis C of a few hundred pounds a year, bringing it up to a round, if arbitrary, £15,000.
- As all those who were infected with Hepatitis C to go through an individual health based assessment to decide how much financial support they are entitled to. That support would be provided as ongoing payments, potentially replacing the discretionary payments currently made through the Caxton Foundation.
- Improved access to treatment for Hepatitis C.
- Bereaved families given a choice between continuing to have access to discretionary grants or a lump sum calculated on the value of those grants.
- A single organisation for administration.
The Minister suggested that the cost of implementing this package would be £100 million, plus the £25 million already announced, in addition to current expenditure. She estimated this would amount to doubling the current Department of Health expenditure over five years. More details about the statement can be found on the Houses of Parliament website.
Haemophilia Scotland remains committed to pushing for the urgent implementation of the Scottish proposals.