Health Minister Robin Swann has announced new payments to beneficiaries of the Northern Ireland Infected Blood Payment Scheme.
On 25 March 2021 Minister Swann announced plans for a number of reforms to the NI Scheme to bring it into greater alignment with the financial support provided in in England, Scotland and Wales.
The Minister said: “Earlier this year I announced plans for improved financial support for those infected and/or affected by contaminated blood. I am delighted to confirm that all eligible beneficiaries on the Northern Ireland Scheme have now received backdated arrears. In addition, bereaved beneficiaries, who were themselves infected, will receive annual payments for being both infected and bereaved.”
Payments included increased lump sums for those who became infected with Hepatitis C and HIV as a result of treatment with NHS-supplied contaminated blood as well as improved annual financial support for bereaved spouses and partners.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in England has committed to funding of up to £4.5m for the additional lump sum payments and the increases to annual payments for beneficiaries of all the UK infected blood support schemes up to and including 2021/22.
The Minister continued: “For Scheme beneficiaries who have sadly passed away and who were not survived by a spouse or partner, the £10,000 bereavement lump sum has been paid to their estate."
In addition to the improved lump sums and annual payments to the bereaved, Minister Swann also decided to introduce enhanced financial support for scheme beneficiaries with Hepatitis C stage 1 whose infection or treatment is considered to have a substantial and long-term adverse impact on their ability to carry out routine daily activities.
The Minister said: “A targeted consultation will shortly commence to help determine the most appropriate away to assess eligibility for enhanced financial support for Hepatitis C stage 1. It is important that this new policy is developed in partnership with those infected and/ or affected.
“Regardless of which assessment model is applied to the Northern Ireland Scheme, the payment will be the same across all four nations and in line with the rate paid on the English scheme.
“I remain committed to doing everything I can to ensure those infected and/or affected by contaminated blood continue to get the support they need and deserve in recognition of the devastating impact this has had on their lives.”
As part of the parity agreement, UK health ministers agreed that any future changes to national schemes will be subject to consultation between the UK Government and devolved administrations.
Notes to editors:
- The improved financial support announced on 25 March 2021 and implemented in July 2021 is for beneficiaries of the Northern Ireland Infected Blood Payment Scheme. The Scheme is for people who became infected with hepatitis C and/or HIV as a result of treatment with NHS-supplied contaminated blood or blood products. More information is available on the Business Services Organisation (BSO) website.
- Northern Ireland had parity with the English scheme in most respects until England announced a £30-million uplift for the English Infected Blood Support Scheme (EIBSS), effective from 1 April 2019. This significant increase in payments to EIBSS beneficiaries resulted in an unintended disparity with Northern Ireland.
- In July 2019, there was ministerial agreement to resolve disparities in financial support across the UK for people infected and/or affected as a result of treatment with NHS-supplied contaminated blood. Since then the Department of Health NI (DoH NI) has been working with the health departments in England, Scotland and Wales, along with the UK Cabinet Office, to agree changes to respective financial support schemes to achieve greater parity. The reforms were announced in a written ministerial statement on 25 March 2021.
- In January 2020, NI Health Minister Robin Swann announced a Review of the NI Infected Blood Payment Scheme and in August 2020 announced an increase in payments to infected beneficiaries, in line with rates paid in England. In March 2021, Minister Swann announced annual financial support for those bereaved as a result of NHS contaminated blood.
- For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Follow us on twitter @healthdpt.
- The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The Duty Press Officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.