Health Secretary Shona Robison today renewed her calls for the UK Government to stop ‘dragging its heels’ over allowing the Scottish Government to give new financial support for those affected by infected NHS blood in Scotland.
The Scottish Government has pledged that those who have been infected with HIV and hepatitis C from infected blood in Scotland will be entitled to extra financial support.
Ministers have also announced that a new Scottish scheme for payouts will be established in 2017, including for the first time, annual payments for widows and widowers.
While work on the new scheme continues, Scottish Ministers have repeatedly called on the UK Government to progress changes to allow them to use existing UK Support schemes, the Skipton Fund and MFET, to pay out the increased lump sums and annual payments without delay.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The Scottish Government is working hard to deliver increased payments for those infected in Scotland through the existing UK schemes this year – but we are dependent on the UK Government to allow this to happen.
“Despite repeated calls to take the steps to allow us to process payments with immediate effect in Scotland, Whitehall has still not approved changes to the relevant Agreements.
“We’re ready to go with a new Scottish payment system next year, but we could start sooner with payments in Scotland if the UK Government would only accede to our request for use of their existing schemes.
“I wrote again to the Department of Health in June to ask that they progress this work more quickly. We are now about to go into August and we still haven’t been given a green light to proceed.
“The UK Government must stop dragging its heels. They have the opportunity to get this moving and send a clear signal to those who have been affected, many of whom are desperate to receive the money they are entitled to, and these delays are totally unacceptable.
“I can assure everyone concerned that we are progressing this as fast as we possibly can in Scotland and will continue to make the case to the UK Government to take the swift action needed.”
Dan Farthing-Sykes, Chief Executive Officer, Haemophilia Scotland said: “Every day I talk to families across Scotland who are in desperate need of the new payments. Some are only just keeping their head above water.
“The stress and anxiety caused by these delays is putting additional strain on families who may be in the final months before a bereavement.
“It is extremely frustrating to know that the money has been assigned by the Scottish Government for months but can’t be paid to those who need it because of this bureaucratic wrangling.
“This Department of Health stalling must stop and this urgently needed money must be paid immediately.”