Contaminated Blood and Blood Products

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:30 pm on 24th November 2016.

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Photo of Kevin Hollinrake Kevin Hollinrake Conservative, Thirsk and Malton 12:30 pm, 24th November 2016

I congratulate Diana Johnson on securing this debate and on all the fine work she has done on the all-party group in keeping this issue in the public eye and in the ministerial eye. I associate myself with many of the points and comments she made. She set out clearly what needs to happen now to resolve the problem, so I shall not repeat what she said.

I would like to highlight the cases of a couple of my constituents who have suffered from the terrible effects of this scandal. I spoke again this week to one of my constituents, Helen Wilcox, who contracted hepatitis C following a blood transfusion at the age of 17, 40 years ago. She told me that she had received some terribly bad news—that her illness had progressed to cirrhosis of the liver. She is currently undergoing tests and biopsies to find out how long she has left to live. I ask Members to imagine the sort of strain her family has had to live with all these years, knowing that her condition would probably get worse, yet hoping that it would not.

Mrs Wilcox has had four strokes and suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. She takes 35 tablets a day and can barely get out of bed. Understandably, she says she has no life. She does not go out and she cannot make plans. She barely has the energy to bring up her children, and she had to give up her job 10 years ago. I am sure that the Minister will agree that she and her family deserve the certainty and clarity of a decent settlement in keeping with the pain and suffering she has endured.

Mrs Wilcox is not on her own. Many other Members will have similar stories from their constituencies. Another victim in my own constituency is Richard Warwick, who was multiply infected with HIV and hepatitis C as well as hep B by the NHS. His life has been ruined through no fault of his own. Of the 30 pupils in his class in the special school he attended, only four remain alive today. In fact, of the 1,200 victims who are co-infected, only 280 are still alive. Richard has campaigned long and hard for a fair deal for victims such as himself. One of the most heart-breaking and emotional meetings I have ever had as a Member of Parliament was when I spoke to Mr and Mrs Warwick, who told me about the impacts that has had on their lives and their terribly difficult decision not to have a family because of the health implications that would potentially have for their children.

I welcome the point made by the Haemophilia Society that the new payment scheme is an improvement on proposals in the original January consultation. I think it makes complete sense to have one single scheme rather than multiple schemes, and I am pleased that more money has been identified to pay the victims. On behalf of my constituents and others like them, however, I ask the Minister to ensure that no one is worse off under the new system, including those who are in receipt of discretionary payments. I ask, too, for greater clarity about payments made to the families of victims after they have passed away.