Statement from The Hepatitis C Trust on the Government's infected blood support reforms

The Hepatitis C Trust welcomes the reforms to the infected blood support scheme, which were announced yesterday by the Prime Minister following a Government consultation on its proposals earlier this year. 

The plans include the introduction, for the first time, of annual payments of £3,500 (including a £500 winter fuel payment) for people with 'stage 1' hepatitis C, increasing to £4,500 per year from 2018/19. The Government has chosen not to proceed with its original proposal for people with stage 1 hepatitis C to be individually assessed for annual payments, and has instead introduced a scheme of annual payments without assessment. Other plans include:

  • Small increases for those in receipt of 'stage 2' payments for hepatitis C up to £15,000 including winter fuel payments, rising to £18,500 per year from 2018/19, as well as increases for those co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C at stage 1 and stage 2.
  • The replacement of the five trusts with a single administrator.
  • The maintenance of discretionary support payments.
  • The creation of a special appeals mechanism for those at stage 1 who consider that the impact of their infection may mean they could qualify for stage 2 annual payments  and the £50k lump sum payment.
  • A one-off lump sum payment of £10,000 for the bereaved.

Charles Gore, Chief Executive of The Hepatitis C Trust, commented that "The new plans unveiled by the Government represent an important step forwards in terms of the support provided to those affected by hepatitis C as a result of NHS contaminated blood. Whilst the support arrangements still look likely to fall somewhat short of those being developed in Scotland, these plans are a vast improvement on those initially outlined by the Government. In particular, we welcome the fact that discretionary support payments are being maintained and that unassessed annual payments have been introduced, in recognition of the fact that many people with ‘stage 1’ hepatitis C (without cirrhosis) may also experience severe symptoms as a result of the virus which can restrict their ability to fully participate in society." 

Our response to the Government's consultation document on the reforms also challenged the original proposal that priority access to treatment for hepatitis C should be provided as part of the payment scheme for those affected by contaminated blood. All eligible patients should already be able to exercise their right to NICE-approved drugs on the NHS, rather than having their access restricted by the national cap on treatment imposed by NHS England. We therefore welcome the fact that the Government has today confirmed it will not be using funding available for the scheme to provide enhanced access to the new treatments.

To read more about the Government reforms in full and how they will affect you, view the full response here.