Dear Department of Health,
On the 20th of December 1991 there was a debate in the House of Commons on "Infected Blood Transfusions" (vol 201). At 625-626 the Minister for Health, Mrs Virginia Bottomley MP, says,
"Mrs. Bottomley I hope that explaining the various ways in which we are tackling the problem will help the hon. Gentleman to understand why we reached the decision that we did. It is important to consider that group in the context of the larger group of HIV and AIDS sufferers, to make it clear that—whatever the causation—they are suffering from a disease for which there is no known cure and to which we and the hon. Gentleman have sought to give priority.
It is important to establish the arguments in respect of no-fault compensation. Although it may initially seem superficially appealing, its long-term implications for the health service would be very serious. In reaching the decision a year ago that the haemophiliacs in question should be offered financial assistance because they were a special and specific group, the Government considered carefully the various factors involved. We took the view that because they already suffered from health, social and 626 financial disadvantages associated with their lifelong condition, an exceptional decision should be made in their case.
The hon. Gentleman argued that the payments made to HIV-infected haemophiliacs should be considered as a precedent for blood transfusion cases. There is hardly any need for me to remind the House of the lengthy campaign on behalf of haemophiliacs—supported by many right hon. and hon. Members, the public and the media—whose advocates reiterated that haemophiliacs were an exceptional and specific group who merited exceptional treatment. The Government remain convinced that their case is exceptional.
It is always extremely difficult to draw distinctions. It is likely that there will always be a group who will feel unfairly treated, seek to have the limits redrawn and the boundary altered, and argue that they should be incorporated rather than excluded. That will be the case whenever such a decision is made.
The Government recognised the arguments forcefully put to us that HIV-infected haemophiliacs were a special case. I repeat that their lifelong condition of haemophilia—which had already adversely affected their health, social, employment, insurance, and mortgage prospects—was further exacerbated by the onset of HIV."
This contribution to the debate indicates that the Government took a decision to accept that people with Haemophilia were a special case. I am requesting any departmental paperwork that informed the decision to define this group as having a special status and/or what legislation or powers were used to make this designation.