Contaminated Blood Products

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:16 am on 9th September 2015.

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Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 11:16 am, 9th September 2015

No. I will touch on the issue of drugs, and if there is time afterwards, I will take another intervention.

Many Members are aware that a new generation of promising drug treatments is emerging that has the potential to offer an effective cure for many patients with hepatitis C. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issued guidance recommending two of the drugs earlier this year, and those are now routinely available on the NHS for eligible patients. NICE is developing guidance on three further treatments and has recently consulted on draft guidance. NHS England announced in June that it has made £190 million available this year so that patients with confirmed cirrhosis from hepatitis C can benefit from the new treatment options. In previous debates, I have offered advice to Members on how constituents who are worried that they are not getting access to those options, yet meet the clinical guidelines, can get access. In particular, it is important that patients to talk to their hepatologist.

We estimate that around 550 individuals infected with hepatitis C through historical treatment with NHS-supplied blood and blood products can now access the new treatments under the NHS’s interim commissioning policies. As the Secretary of State committed to on 25 March, the Department of Health is continuing to work to bring transparency to the matter of infected blood. The documents covering the period from 1970 to 1985 have been published in line with the Freedom of Information Act, and are available on the National Archives website. The Department is completing the transfer of the documents that we hold for 1986 to 1995 to the National Archives. Once those have been handed over, the National Archives will need to take the records on to its systems and make them available on its “Discovery” website. As to the precise date, we had hoped that it would be this summer, but for technical reasons the National Archives has indicated that it anticipates the documents being made available on its website after the January 2016 releases. I stress that that is only for technical reasons associated with the transfer of the documents.

I appreciate the House’s frustration and I am sorry that I will not be able to let the hon. Member for South Down back in to respond at the end. I understand the sense of urgency and the need for change. In hoping to reach a conclusion as soon as is practicable, I have, through Diana Johnson, offered parliamentarians a meeting ahead of the consultation so that I can hear their concerns and suggestions and so that they can contribute to shaping scheme reform.

Motion lapsed (Standing Order No. 10(6)).