Contaminated Blood and Blood Products

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:51 am on 24th November 2016.

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Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North 11:51 am, 24th November 2016

Absolutely. That is a very important point. I will come on to the primary beneficiaries in a while, but I will now make some progress.

My first concern was about the different schemes that are available. The second issue, which is also important, is that we know the five existing trusts will be amalgamated into a single body to administer the scheme at some point in 2017. I am deeply troubled by the fact that the administration of the new body looks likely to be done by a profit-making private company. I know that Atos and Capita have attended meetings with Department of Health officials about the new contract. Formal tender submissions will be due soon, with a decision on the contractor set to be made in 2017. No Health Minister has had the courtesy to tell the all-party group of these plans, nor were the beneficiaries asked for their views about this in the survey done in January. Even the Department’s response to the survey, which was published in July, made absolutely no mention of such a prospect. Alongside hon. Members on both sides of the House, I cannot support proposals to contract out provision to Atos or Capita.

Let me remind the House how many in this community were infected in the first place. Many contracted HIV and hepatitis C from American blood products supplied by profit-making private companies. The United States, unlike the UK, has always allowed the commercial purchase of blood products, and those products were often donated by people who desperately needed money and were willing to be less than honest about their chances of infection. This is the reason why so many in the affected community harbour such distrust of private companies.