Victims of blood scandal angry at funding delay
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015
Victims of the NHS blood scandal have reacted with anger and disappointment after the government announced a delay in spending £25m to help those affected.
Prime minister David Cameron apologised in March for the saga that saw thousands of people accidentally infected with HIV and hepatitis C through blood and blood products used by the NHS before 1991.
The PM pledged £25m would be allocated to ease transition to a reformed system of support for people who have had to live with the conditions ever since.
Victims and campaigners have waited to discover how that money would be spent, but reacted angrily when Lord Prior, parliamentary under secretary of state in the Department of Health and the former MP for North Norfolk, announced that no decision will be made before Parliament breaks for the summer recess on Tuesday.
He said: 'While I understand that beneficiaries to the current schemes may be frustrated by this wait, this is an extremely complex and sensitive area and any reform plans must be carefully considered before a consultation can be launched.'
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Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said the delay was 'frustrating,' and hoped to question ministers urgently before the recess.
Ms Smith, along with Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood.
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She said: 'I'm keen for the update to come as soon as possible for those who really need the promised help.'
This paper's investigations unit ran a series of articles earlier this year in which victims described that they felt ignored by the government.
Last night they told of their anger and disappointment at the delay.
Steve Sillett, of St Paul's Close, Brockdish, who was infected with hepatitis C, said: 'I'm disappointed and quite angry.
'He [David Cameron] has gone back on his words.
'He promised, if re-elected, he would sort it out as a priority.'
Alan Burgess, of Ipswich, who was infected with both HIV and hepatitis C, said: 'We have been used to delays, but they are playing with our lives.
'I keep hoping this nightmare will end, but it looks like it will carry on for another year.'
Annie Walker, of Mousehold House, Norwich, who contracted hepatitis C from blood transfusions following an operation aged 19, said: 'It looks like another case of the government saying they're going to do something and then do nothing.'
Michael Colyer, from Barford, who contracted hepatitis C after being given blood products to treat haemophilia, said it was no excuse for the government to justify delaying an announcement because of the complexity of the issue.
Of the 7,000 people given contaminated blood products only an estimated 6,000 know it.
Some 2,000 people have died.
Have you been infected with contaminated blood? Email our health correspondent at firstname.lastname@example.org