Debates between Lord O'Shaughnessy and Baroness Jolly during the 2019 Parliament

Thu 14th Jan 2021
Medicines and Medical Devices Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage:Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords

Medicines and Medical Devices Bill

Debate between Lord O'Shaughnessy and Baroness Jolly
Report stage & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Thursday 14th January 2021

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Medicines and Medical Devices Act 2021 View all Medicines and Medical Devices Act 2021 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 154-II(Rev) Revised second marshalled list for Report - (12 Jan 2021)
Lord O'Shaughnessy Portrait Lord O'Shaughnessy (Con) [V]
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My Lords, it is a privilege to be able to support and put my name to the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lady Cumberlege. As has so often been the case in this Bill, where she leads, others follow, and I entirely endorse everything that she and the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, have said. My reason for supporting the amendment is simple: as my noble friend made clear today, there are tens of thousands of women, men and their families who are suffering from the impact of licensed medicines and medical devices that have been wrongly used.

My noble friend’s landmark review gives voice to so many people who have been ignored for too long; that is what gives it such moral power and makes the force of its arguments so irresistible. Within the final report of her review is a clear recommendation for ex gratia redress schemes to be established for those affected by the HPT, mesh and valproate scandals. To my mind, this recommendation is neither radical nor extraordinary: such schemes have been set up in the past—for the victims of thalidomide and contaminated blood. Indeed, this is a common-sense proposal, and it is urgent—because the suffering of so many continues to this day, as my noble friend pointed out.

I have spoken in the past of two women—Janet Williams and Emma Murphy—whose lives, and whose children’s lives, have been changed for ever by in utero exposure to sodium valproate. They were interviewed as part of a recent Channel 4 documentary on the challenges they face in day-to-day life, the guilt they have been made to feel and their struggle to be heard. Janet and Emma’s honesty and tenacity have been an inspiration to me since I met them, and I defy anyone to watch that programme and not be moved to tears.

I was also contacted recently by another lady, who has been harmed by mesh. Her name is Susan Morgan, and, with her permission, I convey her story. She described to me being on,

“a hideous journey that was thrust upon me without consent”,

suffering grievous, painful and irreparable damage due to a mesh that can now never be removed. Sadly, she has lost nearly everything in dealing with the consequences of this terrible, avoidable injury, and she asks only that

“the burden of fear and worry be removed so that I can find some peace”.

Therefore, I ask my noble friend the Minister: are the redress schemes proposed in the review of the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege, under serious consideration, as my honourable friend Nadine Dorries said in the other place earlier this week? I hope so. If so, when will they be introduced? Only a robust answer will be enough to satisfy those supporting this amendment. I close by imploring my noble friend to move quickly: these victims cannot wait any longer—their pain is real, and their need is urgent. Of course, a redress scheme will not change or right every wrong that has been done to Susan, Janet, Emma and thousands like them, but perhaps it might bring them some peace.

Baroness Jolly Portrait Baroness Jolly (LD) [V]
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Amendment 68, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege, requires the Secretary of State

“to create redress schemes for those who have already suffered avoidable harm”

related to hormone pregnancy tests, sodium valproate and pelvic mesh. The Minister has told us that there will be no redress agency. The noble Lord spoke passionately about suffering without redress. A significant amount will need to be paid through NHS Resolution to the women affected by these three interventions. Who will ensure that the women affected receive proper recompense? As the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege, has said, they have had to pay out for travel for treatment and payment for carers, and they are seriously out of pocket for what they originally thought was standard, straightforward NHS treatment.

I fear that, if there is no scheme, the NHS will have to pay more than it would through a properly managed redress scheme. This and the previous amendment are powerful signals to the Government that they must act on this issue of redress. I hope that, in summing up, the Minister will be able to share the Government’s plans with us. If they have no plans, what would he suggest that these women should do? The noble Lord, Lord O’Shaughnessy, put the case very powerfully.