Thompsons Solicitors Senior Partner Frank Maguire and hepatitis campaigner Philip Dolan have called for an urgent meeting with Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, following Andrew Lansley’s announcement of additional support for Hepatitis C victims in England.
Mr Lansley announced in the Commons that some of those infected with Hepatitis C as a result of contaminated blood transfusions from the NHS would receive increased compensation.
The new deal, which only applies in England, offers better compensation to those whose hepatitis C infection has progressed to cause serious disease.
The current terms allow a one-off payment of £20,000 to all those infected, with a further £25,000 if they develop more severe diseases, such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Under the new terms, the second group – those with severe diseases – will get an annual payment of £12,800 a year. Those with severe diseases who have already been given a lump sum will have it increased from £25,000 to £50,000. There will also be "discretionary payments" to those most in need, and the dependents of those who died before 2003 will for the first time be able to claim.
But campaigners in England have branded the new payments as ‘hugely disappointing’ and a ‘missed opportunity to bring closure’ to those affected.
Now Scottish campaigners are pressing for an urgent meeting with Ms Sturgeon in the hope of winning a better deal for Scottish victims.
Mr Dolan, Chairman of the West of Scotland Forum of the Haemophilia Society said: “Mr Lansley’s announcement is a bit like waiting till all the Japanese prisoners of war were dead before giving them compensation.
“Welcome as any improvement in compensation levels might be, they only apply to those who are in the advance stages of the disease where it has developed into cancer or they need transplants, and they are a very small minority.
“The vast majority of people who have campaigned on the issue will get nothing, despite the fact that they have to live with all the devastating effects Hep C has on their employment opportunities, relationships and even their ability to get insurance.
“It’s good news that widows and other dependents of those who died before 2003 can now claim, but the window for tracing these people is only until March and that is an impractically tight schedule.”
Mr Maguire, who is a leading campaigner for Hep C victims said: “If this announcement applied to Scotland we would say it is ‘too little too late.’
“We need an urgent meeting with Nicola Sturgeon when we will be pressing her to agree a more equitable and realistic settlement here in Scotland.”
More information on Hep C :
- Sources of Hep C
- Hep C Symptoms & Treatments
- Hep C Skipton Fund