The charity that supports Haemophiliacs in Wales is launching a crowd funding initiative to finance legal proceedings against the Welsh Government.
Haemophilia Wales wants a Wales specific consultation on how victims and families of the NHS contaminated blood scandal of the 1970s and 80s receive their financial support.
This comes in the wake of the charity’s discovery that a recent Department of Health consultation, reforming the current system of discretionary financial payments, applies to England only, meaning that Welsh victims and their families will be powerless to influence any decision on their financial support.
Leading the judicial review to demand a Wales specific consultation is one of Wales’ leading legal experts in public law, Michael Imperato, of South Wales based law firm, Watkins and Gunn.
The so-called ‘tainted blood scandal’ took place in the late 70s and early 80s and resulted in around 5,000 people contracting HIV and Hepatitis C from contaminated blood during treatment for haemophilia or blood transfusion by the NHS. 200 haemophilia sufferers in Wales were affected. 70 of them have sadly died.
A public inquiry into the scandal in Scotland resulted in victims and their families getting substantially increased financial support, and now Haemophilia Wales wants the Welsh Government to follow the Scottish scheme.
Michael Imperato, partner at Watkins & Gunn Solicitors, who is leading this case said: “The Welsh Government has led Haemophilia Wales to believe that the recent Department of Health consultation and its recommendations apply to Wales, but this is simply not the case.
“In his final speech in Parliament, David Cameron made an announcement on the infected blood scheme for England only. I firmly believe that the Welsh Government will now have to find the money to continue support in Wales. Welsh sufferers must be given a voice to help shape the changes in financial support, which is why a Welsh consultation is crucial”, he added.
50 year old South Wales widow, Monica Summers, is just one of the hundreds of people in Wales who have been affected by the contaminated blood tragedy. She lost her husband Paul when he died in 2008 from HIV and Hepatitis, following a liver transplant. He was 44.
Monica explained: “Paul was a haemophiliac who was given contaminated factor 8 as a teenager. Our daughterwas left without a father at five years old. We previously had a good standard of living as Paul was an architect and worked up until a week before he received his liver transplant. I currently have to apply for discretionary support from one of the charitable schemes set up by the Government which are designed to prevent beneficiaries from claiming anything. I cannot get a part time job as I will lose discretionary support. Our family have been campaigning for justice for over 25 years and we continue to be ignored and side-lined.”
Lynne Kelly, Chair of Haemophilia Wales, said that although Ministers are sympathetic to the plight of the victims, they will not accept responsibility for their financial payments, arguing that the contaminated blood scandal occurred before devolution and insisting that the Westminster Government oversees the payments.
Ms Kelly said: “Through no fault of their own, so many people have died and others have been condemned to a life time of ill health, being denied access to life assurance and mortgage protection for over 30 years. Partners and families who have had to give up work to care for their loved ones have lost their right to a family life and to their own careers, as well as having to live with their bereavement. So now we’re asking if the Welsh Government do more for these victims and follow the Scottish scheme on infected blood support.
To support Haemophilia Wales in their crowd funding initiative email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.crowdjustice.co.uk