The Thalidomide Health Grant was debated in Westminster Hall on 5th September 2012. There were about 40 beneficiaries watching from the public gallery, having come from all over the UK to bear witness. It was a momentous occasion and having so many of us there made an impact.
Cathy Jamieson (MP for Kilmarnock and Loudon) led the 30-minute debate in great style, with 27 other MPs attending, of whom 15 spoke – each one making a useful contribution, many of them quoting something that their thalidomide constituent had told them. This was thanks to the letters you have sent, and face-to-face visits that many of you have made to your MPs in your home towns, backed up by the efforts of the NAC campaign team and Trust staff – it shows just how effective we can be, working together like this – well done everyone!
Cathy Jamieson and the MPs were unanimous in their support for a continuing Health Grant, showing an in-depth awareness of why we need it, and the wide range of helpful things we use it for.
Norman Lamb, the new Minister of State for Care Services (Health) was the minister called to reply. It was his first day in the job, replacing Paul Burstow in the Cabinet reshuffle, but he listened and understood what we are asking for; our need for a decision soon, and a ‘longer term’ Health Grant arrangement. In his words, he undertook to make the decision “in the autumn”. He and Cathy Jamieson MP referred often to the data we are collecting for the health departments – the Firefly evaluation and our SOF reports are the keys to unlocking their decision. This shows just how important those projects were, the Firefly Evaluation – an independent evaluation done by Firefly where approximately 60 beneficiaries supplied information in direct relation to the questions asked by the Department of Health, and the Securing Our Future (SOF) – run by the NAC where so many of you have input your cost data for the last two years.
Watch the proceedings of the debate, on the parliamentary televised record
(scroll along the time-bar to start watching at 11 am Westminster Hall, 5th September).
We have a meeting of the Thalidomide APPG next week which Trust staff and the campaign team will attend. We have another letter planned for you to send to your MP shortly. We believe that the end is in sight if we keep up the pressure with your continuing help and support.