I recently attended a meeting with Anne Milton, Health Minister, on Monday October 24th at the Department of Health in London. My MP, Mark Garnier, managed to get me on the list of attendees. I was keen to attend to tell her personally how I felt about her announcement in January of this year which I believed failed the majority of the bleeding disorder community who had been affected by contaminated NHS blood products.
This was our introduction to Ms Milton and her associates:
Thank you very much for seeing us all today. We would much prefer not to take up your time, but following your review and announcement regarding contaminated blood products in January 2011 we felt compelled to request this meeting, to urge you to re-visit the decisions made. Specifically the one to retain the separation of the Hepatitis C infected community into two groups – stage 1 and 2 – when there is so much evidence that HCV is far more than liver disease. People within the Stage 1 group are ill, but not through liver damage.
When Andrew Lansley (MP) introduced the review findings he said that he hoped they would remove anomalies in the existing support system and that they could bring us some comfort, consolation and maybe even closure. We believe that none of these objectives were met. Your decision was that continuous financial support was only required by 20% of our infected community, leaving the majority still suffering, struggling and still fighting for help. Maintaining defined stages of illness for Hepatitis C has increased not removed anomalies. We do not think the levels of support offered are adequate but today we are requesting the immediate ending of the two tier system.
We believe that this is a fundamentally flawed decision and that an infected person deserves and should receive help because they were infected by NHS treatment, not if they meet highly specific, difficult to prove, levels of illness. We do not believe the conditional and means tested Fund which is being offered is a step forward, rather it is an echo of the system criticised by this government and is vastly inadequate given the needs of those within the stage 1 group.
Some of us belong to the various contaminated blood campaign groups. I would like to stress that we are here today as individuals speaking only on behalf of ourselves but working for the benefit of all those who have been marginalised by your actions. We hope to illustrate this by our own personal testimonies and the information included in our pack.
I will put the evidence we gave her on here, in post to follow…