I do intend to touch on new treatments, because that is one aspect of the landscape in this policy area that has changed profoundly for the better in recent years. I am also always happy to follow up on any issues with colleagues.
I know how much interest there is in this issue, as demonstrated by the presence of so many Members today. Many Members have heard from constituents, as have I, of the significant and devastating impact of this tragic matter on their lives. Successive Governments of all complexions have looked at and wrestled with this difficult issue. I have spoken directly to affected individuals and families and I read many letters—every single one that is sent to me—detailing people’s concerns and frustrations with the current schemes of support and the situation in general.
I assure Members that the matter of infected blood and the reform of the payment schemes continues to be a priority for me. I meet regularly with my officials in the Department of Health, including over the summer, to maintain progress towards a better outcome. As I indicated in my statement before the recess, the Government are considering the provision of future financial assistance, and other support for those affected, within the context of the spending review and in a way that is sustainable for the future. It does need to be sustainable.
We will be consulting to help develop the shape and structure of any new scheme. Members know that, and we have said that before. I appreciate and share the frustration that we have not been able to move to publish a date. I cannot give Members a date today, but we still intend to consult as soon as possible.