Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon Hull North MP Diana Johnson criticised the ‘shabby’ treatment of NHS Contaminated Blood victims by the Government. The speech can be viewed at http://goo.gl/PSfd43.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question. I am mindful that I have just two minutes to deal with 30 years of injustice in this case. Members will know that this is the worst treatment scandal in the history of the NHS.
On 14 January, the all-party parliamentary group on haemophilia and contaminated blood published a report about how the current support is wholly inadequate. After the publication of the Penrose report on 25 March, the Prime Minister told the House that
“it is vital that we move as soon as possible to improve the way that payments are made to those infected”.
“if I am Prime Minister in May, we will respond to the findings of this report as a matter of priority.”—[Official Report, 25 March 2015; Vol. 594, c. 1423.]
On 3 June, the Prime Minister promised
“a full statement…before the summer recess”.—[Official Report, 3 June 2015; Vol. 596, c. 584.]
At 2 pm last Friday, a written statement was laid in the other place. In short, it means no extra help for victims for at least two more years. Tabling it in the other place when the Commons was not sitting was very shabby indeed.
I have four specific questions. First, when will we see a timetable for consultation on a reformed scheme of compensation? Will any of the £25 million be spent in 2015-16, as was promised by the Prime Minister?
Secondly, two years ago the Government sold an 80% stake in Plasma Resources UK, the company that creates plasma products for the NHS, to Bain Capital for £200 million. Was that capital receipt ring-fenced to compensate those affected by contaminated blood? If not, why not?
Thirdly, on 2 June the Secretary of State for Health wrote to one of his own constituents:
“Any additional resources found for a settlement will be taken away from money spent on direct patient care for patients in the NHS.”
Is that really the Government’s intention? Will the Minister comment on the starkly different approach the Government took in compensating Equitable Life victims?
Fourthly, there are now drugs available that would allow people like my constituent Glen Wilkinson to clear hepatitis C, but they are not available automatically on the NHS. The NHS gave him the infection and the NHS could now treat him. Where is the justice in withholding those drugs?
I cannot overstate the feelings of anguish that have been caused by the Government’s conduct in recent days. Many victims feel that they are being left to die in misery so that the costs of any eventual settlement scheme become more affordable. Before the election, the Prime Minister promised urgent action. Now is the time to deliver.