The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service is carrying out a public consultation exercise as part of its forward strategy review of the services that it provides. A major objective of the review is to increase the donor base in Scotland by 35,000 people—an increase of 20 per cent.
The minister will no doubt be aware that blood donors are not entitled to paid time off when they give blood. When giving blood, I have met people who have taken unpaid leave to meet the critical need for blood. Does the minister agree that, although people should not be paid for giving blood, employers should be encouraged to give people paid time off to enable them to donate?
Yes, I agree.
Part of the SNBTS's strategy, in an effort to grow the donor base, is to encourage more workplace donations. I hope that employers will make an important contribution by engaging with the SNBTS and by making it as easy as possible for employees to give blood.
On Wednesday 23 April, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing announced the public inquiry into the hepatitis C action plan. I asked about the funding of the inquiry and the cabinet secretary said that
"money will not be taken from the hepatitis C action plan to fund the inquiry. If Margaret Curran wants to look at the budget she will see the distinct entries for both elements."—[Official Report, 23 April 2008; c 7798.]
I subsequently tried to find those distinct elements, and I am still struggling. Information originally given by the Scottish Parliament information centre had to be corrected, and—
The information was clarified three days later. I am briefly coming to the point, Presiding Officer.
I have been told that the public inquiry is to be included within the health protection budget; but since asking about funding for the inquiry under the health protection budget, I have been told that I will have to submit a freedom of information request. Is it legitimate that an MSP is required to submit an FOI request in order to obtain information about an element that the cabinet secretary said was clear, distinct and publicly available in the budget?
The money that I announced for the hepatitis C strategy—record levels of funding—is completely different funding from the funding that will be used for the hepatitis C inquiry. It is important that that is clear; I am sure that Margaret Curran would not suggest otherwise.
I am happy to provide Margaret Curran with any details that she requires on where resources are coming from. However, she can be assured that the resources are there and that they are in no way coming out of money that is going towards the important services for identifying and treating people with hepatitis C.