Richard Lyle MSP hosted a very successful reception for both The Hepatitis C Trust and Haemophilia Scotland in the Fairfax Sommerville Committee Room of the Scottish Parliament.
Despite the foul weather over 40 people with direct experience of the contaminated blood disaster travelled from all over Scotland to remind MSPs that this issue has still not been resolved and that their response to the Penrose Inquiry Final Report will be crucial. There was a good turnout from MSPs too including Kenny MacAskill MSP, Johann Lamont MSP, Tavish Scott MSP, Bob Doris MSP, Margaret McDougall MSP, Nanette Milne MSP, and Rhoda Grant MSP.
The Hepatitis C Trust CEO Charles Gore (pictured, credit; Haemophilia Society) described Scotland as ‘a world leader’ in tackling hepatitis C.
The event was started with a hard hitting extract from the Dogstar Productions play, Factor 9. Matthew and Stuart didn’t pull their punches in their portrayal of the Bruce and Robert’s harrowing experiences of the infections and the campaign for justice.
Scotland’s new Minister for Public Health, Maureen Watt MSP, had the difficult task of following such a powerful performance. She told us that the Scottish Government had recently been told by the Penrose Inquiry that the warnings letter process was not yet complete. She thanked all those involved in the Scoping Exercise and urged us all to continue working closely together.
Haemophilia Scotland’s Chair, Bill Wright, was next to speak. Bill highlighted the length of the campaign and the Inquiry but cautioned against focusing too much on the process and forgetting about the real lives of those who were infected and their families. He talked passionately about the need for action to establish a new system of support, delivered in Scotland, before World Haemophilia Day 2016. He hoped that Scotland could follow the example of the Republic of Ireland and deliver a settlement which would allow the bitterness and pain to begin to disparate. You can read the full version of Bill’s speech here.
The final speaker of the evening was Charles Gore, CEO of The Hepatitis C Trust. He focused on Scotland being a world leader in tackling hepatitis C and the urgent need to maintain that position in dealing with the new treatments and the response to the Penrose Inquiry. He also said it had become clear that hepatitis could no longer just be thought of as a condition of the liver.
The reception took place in December 2014. The Hepatitis C Trust would like to thank Haemophilia Scotland for the content of this article.