Contaminated blood: Long-awaited consultation launched
PUBLISHED: 17:04 21 January 2016 | UPDATED: 17:11 21 January 2016
A long-awaited blueprint outlining payments for the care and support of victims of the contaminated blood scandal has today taken a huge leap forward.
• Replace the current five schemes with one operated by a single body
• Keep eligibility for the reformed scheme broadly the same as it is for the current schemes
• Offer some access to new hepatitis C treatments for those considered clinically appropriate on the basis of a treatment assessment
• Introduce individual assessments for those with hepatitis C stage 1 and for all new entrants to the scheme, to determine amount of a new annual payment, the highest level being the same as those that will be received by those with hepatitis C stage 2
• Retain annual payments (for HIV and/or hepatitis C stage 2) for those who currently receive them
• Seek views on whether to provide newly bereaved partners/spouses with a final payment equivalent to one further annual payment at the level their partner was receiving at the time of their death or to provide access to a discretionary fund or a choice of either
• Seek views on the future arrangements for those already bereaved, and whether that should be through a one-off lump sum or through continuation of a means tested discretionary fund, or a choice of either
Health minister Jane Ellison MP has launched a 12-week consultation into proposals that will see people whose blood was infected in the 1980s assessed to establish how much they should be given in an annual payment towards care costs.
Alongside the plans to extend the number of people receiving these payouts, proposals to give support to newly bereaved partners and spouses have also been set out alongside access to new treatments for Hepatitis C.
But the consultation does not include compensation payouts, which have been called for by victims and campaigners.
Grandmother-of-five Brenda Buzer, of Kingsley Close, Dagenham, is one of thousands of people who were infected through contaminated blood products supplied by the NHS up until 1991.
A decade ago, Brenda, 81, was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. She is not slowly dying of advanced and irreversible liver cirrhosis.
“I do feel a bit bitter about it because I think to myself, there’s all my family I’ll have to leave,” Brenda told the Post in June last year.
Her husband Stan added: “Along with other people she’s had a raw deal and she should get something to make whatever time she’s got left easier.”
This latest move comes after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that Italy must pay £7.7million to more than 350 people who contracted deadly viruses, including HIV and hepatitis C, from contaminated blood products.
The court ruled that victims were entitled to compensation because “the causal link between the transfusion of infected blood and their contamination has been proved”.
Government health officials said: “We feel there is a need for a more accessible and equitable system of care and support that focuses on the welfare of infected individuals.
“The Department of Health recognises its responsibility to everyone infected as a result of NHS treatment and wants to tailor the approach accordingly.”
Ms Ellison, MP for Battersea, told her fellow MPs that she realised the consultation, which has seen many delays since it was announced, would come too late for some people.