Contaminated Blood and Blood Products

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:38 pm on 24th November 2016.

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Photo of Nicola Blackwood Nicola Blackwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 1:38 pm, 24th November 2016

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. Those are exactly the issues that are being wrestled with at the moment by the Department, and we are trying to resolve them.

We realise that the accessibility of the payment scheme for the bereaved, but also of the discretionary support scheme, will be important, as mentioned by the hon. Member for Glasgow South West and my hon. Friend Sir Peter Bottomley. I am not able to give the complete details of the discretionary scheme at the moment. In 2017-18, a new, single discretionary scheme will replace the three discretionary support schemes that are currently in place. It will have an increased budget, and it will be transparent and flexible so that it can support the beneficiaries who are most in need. However, until those details are fully worked out, it would not be fair for me to speculate on exactly what they will be. I do want to reassure hon. Members, however, that until we are in a position to introduce that new system, the current discretionary payments will stay in place.

I would also like to reassure hon. Members that the policy of paying bereaved partners and spouses £10,000 will be published by the Department of Health, and it will be communicated to all major stakeholders, including the APPG, to ensure that we reach out to those who were bereaved a long time ago and make both these policies as accessible as possible.

We realise that these payments can never make up for the personal loss bereaved partners or spouses have experienced, but we are trying to make sure that the process is as smooth and effective as possible, with as few barriers as possible, so that individuals do not feel as though they are trying to jump through hoops.