I sent this letter to my MP this week and I thought you might like to read it too. It was based on a template letter put together by the Manor House, Contaminated Blood Campaign and Tainted blood groups, with my own input added.
This is a critical time, it seems, in our long years of campaigning. Lord Penrose is due to report on the Scottish Public Inquiry in the spring next year and it seems support and momentum is swelling.
I am not letting my hopes swell accordingly, though they are getting jumpy. I have had too many disappointments in the past to make assumptions that appropriate action will finally be taken. However you never know and I would love my cynicism to be proved inaccurate. I really would.
“Dear Mr Garnier
I am writing to update you on the important new developments concerning NHS contaminated blood/blood products. This is a crucial, and potentially historic time in which a resolution to the thirty-year campaign for justice may be possible and I appreciate your continued support in pursuit of this.
Alistair Burt MP met with the Prime Minister on November 12th to review the unresolved issues and hear from some of those affected. I have attached his press release following on from that meeting. Feedback was provided to MPs at a meeting of the APPG for Haemophilia & Contaminated Blood on 20th November.
The APPG heard there are significant developments taking place in a bid to bring about closure for all those affected. Described as a positive meeting, Mr Cameron committed to look at the issue and accepted that there are matters that need to be resolved. Two senior officials have been appointed by Mr Cameron to work with Mr Burt and other MPs on identifying a way forward. I have also attached the notes taken at that meeting for your information. I hope you are willing to get involved with this work.
As you are already aware, this matter is of great importance to me. For over 20 years my family and I have been affected by what happened, and these effects are wide-reaching.
I was fully intending in this section to outline the effects contaminated blood has had on my life however I am opting not to go into the minutiae at this point in time. I have always faced the challenges from my medical conditions head on and done my utmost to be positive and live life as best I could, even once infected by contaminated NHS blood products. I am often told I look well and those who know how deeply I’ve been affected by my infection with hepatitis C both physically and mentally are amazed by how well I cope. I’m going to let you into a secret. I’m not coping. I’ve found the last few years, since the last government announcement of “help” for the victims of contaminated blood, increasingly difficult. I have anger outbursts that are uncontrollable and frightening. They are usually triggered by my hurting myself in a minor way and result in a loss of control, a fury, and violence that severely upsets me. I asked for a referral to a psychologist last July.
Eventually as that was not forthcoming I pursued this through another route and started seeing a psychotherapist in March of this year. I saw her for 6 months and she has now retired. I am now looking again for some support in this area.
My problem is that I am psychologically at my limit. I have coped with the difficulties caused by my infection with hepatitis C and the subsequent toxic treatment of it. I have managed my feelings of depression and anger over the years. I have dealt with the feelings of utter disappointment where we have been let down by government after government. I live with the difficulties of my poor health and pain every day. Dwelling on this does me no good. I consider myself in a kind of limbo – unable to work, unable to have the family I so desire, unable to do any of the hobbies I love. Waiting for the day when I feel better and knowing that day is more than likely never going to come. And believe me I am a positive person who maintains my sense of hope wherever I can.
We need to move into a bungalow due to my mobility needs. We cannot afford to. Our only realistic option for having a child is via surrogacy. We cannot afford this. If I had a child I would be unfit as a mother unless I had full-time support. We cannot afford this either. If and when I die my husband would be left with nothing because I am not accepted by any insurers for life insurance. When I am struggling and need psychological support I would like to be able to access this immediately rather than applying to a fund which takes weeks, if not months, to decide if they can help with funding for this. None of this would be a problem if I had not been infected with Hepatitis C, if I had not had two lots of toxic interferon treatment which has left me so ill I lost my lucrative career in IT consultancy. I would like this recognised and put right.
I am dealing with the loss of so many things but mostly the loss of my own identity and my future. And please do not forget I am “cured” of hepatitis C in the eyes of the NHS and the government.
I would like nothing better than to forget the hepatitis C. To forget that every day I struggle with the physical and mental effects of being given virus contaminated blood products. I doubt I will ever completely forget but I ask you to do your utmost to ensure that I and others in my position do not get forgotten again, but get the help and support we should have had many years ago.
This is what I would like to happen:
The Skipton / Caxton / MFT needs to be scrapped – they work ineffectively and with little understanding of the nature of the difficulties we are suffering. They could be made to be proactive and help in a much more comprehensive manner but I would prefer them become redundant.
I suggest instead that those of us who received contaminated blood products – irrespective of how we are right now, but instead acknowledging the devastation of infection itself, and understanding and expecting that our problems will only increase in time – be given proper financial support. We cannot get mortgages, cannot get life insurance, do not have pensions, are unable to save. All of this could be solved by a substantial one-off payment and subsequent annual payments.
I would suggest a reasonable and comprehensive support arrangement to be:
~A lump sum ex gratia payment made on moral grounds to all patients infected by contaminated blood products or their widows / families (I’m not sure of the up to date figure) of £375,000 – this payment could be made over three years though it would be better received as a single lump sum.
~An annual ex gratia index linked payment made on moral grounds to all patients infected by contaminated blood products, to be paid whilst they are still alive (again I’m not sure of the exact numbers) I suggest a figure between the average annual wage for a male and female – £28,000 per person infected. I have used the average wages as described on this website:
This would decrease in line with deaths. This is in line with the amount currently received by the co-infected who meet the stage 2 criteria, as outlined on the Anomalies document I have attached below.
~A payment in lieu of life insurance to be paid to families once an infected person has died, I suggest £250,000.
~Free prescriptions without having to apply for a pre-payment certificate every year and access to private treatment where the NHS cannot provide any care we need in a timely way.
This would enable my husband and I to think about a future together and actually work towards achieving that. It would mean Adrian was looked after in the event of my death. It would mean I no longer needed to rely on my parents who are now in their 70s and would release them from their constant worry. It would give me and my family and my husband our lives back, to some degree. It would mean so much to me.
I am conscious that nothing can bring back those who have lost their lives to the infections, or reverse the long-term health damage for those who survive. However, I believe that if the government were to establish a full and fair financial settlement, along with an acknowledgement of what happened/an apology, then at least we could all find the kind of closure that financial independence would bring.
Finally, I would like to impress on you that the only way this campaign will end, thus enabling people to get on with their lives, will be if this is successfully sorted out once and for all.
In order for this initiative to work I believe it is of vital importance that the affected community is directly involved, consulted and represented fully at every step.
We all need resolution, and we do not need it to be dragged out for any longer than absolutely necessary, but whatever process is employed it needs to reflect the impact on all the affected community and the resultant need that has been created whether from Hepatitis (A, B, C, D, E, G, etc.), HIV, vCJD or other infection.
The time has passed for commissioning endless medical reports and studies, or for politicians – however well motivated – to be deciding what happens to our lives. This hasn’t worked for the last thirty years and it won’t work now.
A wide consultation is proposed but I need involvement and true representation this time, to ensure any exercise that informs a settlement is suitable. Currently, only the victims themselves and campaign representatives, such as Taintedblood, Manor House Group and CBC collectively, have the knowledge to inform this process. Could I therefore ask you to do everything within your power to represent me and the wider community at this crucial stage in the process?
Thank you – I look forward to your reply.
The main feedback I have had so far is that the amounts I’ve suggested are conservative. There is a balance to be struck between what we believe our lives to be worth and what the government may consider realistic. Do you think I have been cautious? I may revise this with my MP.
Let me know what you think …
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