Hepatitis C

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:00 am on 25th March 2004.

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Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) 11:00 am, 25th March 2004

My Lords, again I pay tribute to the work done by my noble friend and the Haemophilia Society in pursuing the issue. But the underlying principles of the scheme that has been announced is that it should be targeted to help to alleviate the suffering of people living with inadvertent—I stress, inadvertent—hepatitis C infection. The fund is not designed to compensate for refusal of cover, loss of earnings or bereavement. I understand the problems that my noble friend has outlined, but my understanding is that hepatitis C does not automatically preclude someone from gaining life assurance.

It is difficult to predict the cost of the scheme and the number of people who will benefit, but our best estimates are that between 6,000 and 7,000 people will benefit from the scheme. I can reassure my noble friend that the department will honour all valid claims.