Open letter from Colette Wintle to Brian Williams at the Cabinet Office
It has been a considerable period of time since we met when I attended a meeting with 27 other campaigners in January 2019 to meet with the then Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden, Nadine Dorries Minister for Suicide and Mental Health, and other senior civil servants at the Cabinet Office. As you will recall , one of the main topics of discussion and a contentious one, was the appalling disparity of ex gratia support payments across the devolved nations of the UK. The background history was that the contaminated blood disaster took place over decades under a Westminster government, well in advance of the subsequent devolvement of Scotland and Wales. Key to this, is the fact that people registered with the schemes which were set up from the late 1980’s and 2004 ( Skipton Fund) were being unfairly treated in the amounts they were receiving and further disparities occurred with individual nations paying differing and divisive amounts for the same infections.
I believed that after several years of battling to correct this unfair system, and that after what was unnecessary prevarication on governments part, the announcement made in March this year by Penny Morduant, laid out clearly governments intention to rectify but not totally level up the payments across the UK. I would like to point out this announcement does still not offer parity as Teresa May stated should happen in parliament prior to leaving office as Prime Minister. Parity should be backdated to 2016 when Scotland were paying at higher levels, rather than 2019. As a reminder of what Penny Morduant confirmed government would do see below and in particular paragraph two under the heading Parity.
I write as a matter of urgency to draw your attention to the information I was given yesterday by one of the administrators of the English Infected Blood Support Scheme. I telephoned EIBSS to inquire as to when I could expect to receive the backdated monies I am due from the annual payments which were backdated to 2019. To my utter disbelief, and despite the clear intent of the announcement Penny Morduant made, I was told categorically that the DHSC had not instructed EIBSS to pay this money, but focus purely on the four categories of uplift listed further down in the announcement! This is an absolute disgrace because it is not what the Minister instructed and is in direct conflict to what was written under the heading PARITY. “I am pleased to confirm that the following changes are planned to the four separate schemes to bring them into broader parity. Increases in annual payments will be backdated to April 2019.”
Perhaps you could look in to this as a matter of urgency because there is clearly a communication problem between the Cabinet Office and DHSC. As a female Haemophiliac and long standing campaigner with severe health problems, I am disgusted that I have had to discover this latest skullguggery from the Department of Health who frankly have behaved with contempt over many years towards the haemophilia community. I should know as I have met with several Ministers and civil servants since 2001! The cabinet office Minister is well aware of how ill victims of the contaminated blood disaster are, so it is pretty disgraceful to let down people harmed by the state who are dependent on this money. Can you confirm receipt of this email and investigate this as a matter of urgency? I look forward to hearing from you. I will also be in touch with the Chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry of this latest situation, as well as contacting the DOH.
Independent campaigner for The Haemophilia Community
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She was a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.