Ritchie welcomes the publication of the long-awaited consultation document regarding the reformed scheme for those tragically infected with HIV or Hepatis C through NHS supplied blood or blood products.
Margaret Ritchie said today
“Following continuous representations to the Minister for Public Health in London, Ms June Ellison, she has now informed me that at long last, she has published the long awaited consultation document regarding the reformed scheme for those tragically infected with HIV or Hepatis C through NHS supplied bloods or blood products which were imported from the United States of America in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Many of those people who were infected with these blood products are haemophiliacs and include my constituent, Brian Carberry from Downpatrick who has waited many years for proper and fair justice. The ministerial statement and the consultation document has arrived some four months after my Adjournment Debate on this subject in the Commons; some six months after the Public Health Minister, Ms June Ellison informed the House of Commons that such a consultation would take place, and some ten months after the Prime Minister indicated on the floor of the House of Commons that action would be taken to help those affected by infected blood products.
Whilst a consultation on the nature of the revised payment scheme is a welcome step, I would contend that those who have been suffering from the challenging medical and other side effects from the NHS supplied blood products should have received direct compensation from the British Government which should be paid out of the Contiguency Fund; access to adequate medicines and a system of payments to help and support them through their illnesses. It is worth noting that these infected blood products had many side effects and some of those affected have ended up with other medical complications including cancer diagnoses.
Due to the complex nature of the existing payments system and the fact that a revised system has been waited for a long period of time, many people have sadly died and were not properly recompensed in terms of financial assistance.
The British Government should have taken a leaf out of the Irish Government’s ministerial book who indicated some years ago that this should not have happened and provided compensation to those who were suffering from the side effects of infected blood.
It is now time that this sad and unacceptable part of our medical history was settled; that proper and due compensation is paid, and that direct access to approved medicines is provided for. This tragic case of the infected bloods scandal must be put to bed once and for all. The local Minister for Health in Northern Ireland must be directly involved to ensure that constituents who have so tragically impacted upon by contaminated bloods receive access to new forms of medication and compensation paid out of the Government’s Contiguency Fund.
I would urge all those affected by this horrendous scandal to make direct responses to the consultation which runs until midnight on Friday 15th April 2016 and to keep the pressure on the Government for a just and final settlement. I will be continuing to make representations to Minister Ellison in the Department of Health in London and to Minister Hamilton in Belfast.”.