The Hepatitis C Trust responds to proposals for reform of support for contaminated blood recipients

The Hepatitis C Trust has this week submitted its response to the Department of Health’s consultation on infected blood, which sets out its proposals for the reform of financial and other support for those affected by hepatitis C and / or HIV as a result of treatment with NHS-supplied blood products.  

The Trust has welcomed some of the Department of Health’s proposals, including that to replace the current five schemes with a single body responsible for administering support and to introduce annual payments for hepatitis C for the first time through individual assessments. However, based on conversations through its patient helpline and with other stakeholders representing those affected by contaminated blood, it has raised a number of significant concerns about many of the proposals, which it believes will negatively impact on the majority of those affected. The Trust has:

  • Argued that nobody should receive less financial support due to the new arrangements, as the new proposals suggest to be the case.
  • Challenged the proposed plan to provide access to treatment for hepatitis C as part of the payment scheme for those affected by contaminated blood: Eligible patients already have a right to NICE-approved treatments as part of the NHS Constitution, and such an arrangement would be both incompatible with the wider NHS system and risk diminishing the funds available for financial support. 
  • Called for discretionary support payments to be maintained, and for the Department of Health to seek to match those to be provided in Scotland.
  • Highlighted the need for more information to be provided on the criteria and evidence against which people’s health will be assessed for annual ‘stage 1’ payments: Assessments should not act as a burden for patients and be perceived as a money-saving exercise, and criteria must be developed in consultation with patients and other stakeholders.
  • Emphasised its strong support for the proposals agreed to by the Scottish Government: It is imperative that any new support arrangements in England should not leave those who happened to have been infected through contaminated blood in this part of the UK with a much worse deal compared to their Scottish counterparts.

Read The Hepatitis C Trust’s full response to the consultation here.