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New payment scheme announced for people with hepatitis C from contaminated blood

  • Last modified date:
    11 January 2011
blood transfusion bag

Anyone who contracted hepatitis C in England from NHS contaminated blood in the late 1970s and 1980s is to receive substantially increased support, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has announced.

The new package follows a three-month review of the financial and other support available to those affected.

The review, which has also been published, examined the clinical evidence for further support for these individuals, and considered how best to provide it for the families of those affected.

People with chronic hepatitis C contracted from contaminated blood currently receive a one-off payment of £20,000. To date, almost 4,300 people infected through their treatment have received payments. A further £25,000 is paid if the disease progresses to more severe disease such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.

The new measures, outlined by the Coalition Government for those with severe infection, include:

  • introducing an annual payment of £12,800, for those with the most serious hepatitis C-related disease from NHS blood transfusions and blood products (in line with those infected with HIV)
  • increasing from £25,000 to £50,000 the one-off payment already made to those with the most serious hepatitis C-related disease
  • making discretionary payments for those most in need
  • increasing the annual payments for both hepatitis C and HIV in line with the Consumer Price Index

“We now intend to make the financial support for hepatitis C patients fairer and more comparable to the arrangements for those infected with HIV.” Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley

Postumous payments have also been introduced, which can be claimed by the families of those with hepatitis C contracted from contaminated blood who died before 29 August 2003. This corrects an anomaly that has existed since the scheme was set up. There will be a three-month window for dependants to make claims on behalf of loved ones who have passed away.   

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: 'I fully recognise that the unintended and tragic consequences of these treatments have seriously impaired the lives of many people, together with those of their families. 

‘For too long those people infected with hepatitis C have received different support to those infected with HIV.  We now intend to make the financial support for hepatitis C patients fairer and more comparable to the arrangements for those infected with HIV.

‘We have listened carefully to the views of the families and campaigners themselves and I believe that changing the payment structure in England, and offering the further assistance we have, will improve the lives of these people and their families.’

Other measures will also be introduced in England to make it easier and fairer for those affected by hepatitis C and HIV from contaminated blood to get broader support. Measures include:

  • exempting these new payments from means-testing for social care services
  • providing the cost of an annual prescription pre-payment certificate to cover the cost of prescriptions for those who are not otherwise exempt from charging
  • providing £100,000 a year for the next three years to selected national charities for counselling  services for those affected

Anyone with hepatitis C who may be eligible under the new arrangements can find out more about what they need to do by contacting the Skipton Fund.  


 

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