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Vaccine Damage

Volume 19: debated on Tuesday 2 March 1982

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the current value of the £10,000 vaccine damage payment had it been inflation proofed since the inception of the vaccine damage payments scheme.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action he has taken or intends to take regarding the recommendation of the panel under Professor Dudgeon which examined vaccine damaged children, that full clinical, pathological and other relevant data be collected by the Committee on Safety of Medicines as soon as possible after a vaccine reaction was reported; and whether he has had further discussions with the Committee on Safety of Medicines regarding its recommendation in the light of the committee's support for it; and what was the outcome of those discussions.

I have had no discussions with the Committee on Safety of Medicines on this recommendation. Since its report was published the committee has considered the recommendation again. It agreed that it would be impracticable to seek additional data relating to all reports. Reports of reactions, however, which are serious, severe, or unusual, or when further information appears to be desirable for clinical reasons, are followed up either by correspondence with the reporting doctor or by arranging an interview with the reporting doctor by one of the committee's part-time medical officers.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will set up a review by some members of the tribunal review panels of a sample of the cases of vaccine damage claimants who had their claims rejected at the initial stage and did not apply for a review.

We have no plans to do so. When my right hon. Friend's decision on a vaccine damage claim is conveyed to a claimant, he is advised of his right to request a review of the determination by an independent vaccine damage tribunal. The Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979 does not set any time limit on these requests.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to ensure that when a vaccine damage payment is refused, either at the initial stage, or by a tribunal, the detailed reasons for the refusal are given to the parents.

If a claim is refused at the initial stage the claimant is informed of the grounds on which my right hon. Friend reached his decision—most commonly because it is not accepted that the disablement was due to the vaccination. Tribunals are of course independent bodies but the Vaccine Damage Payments Regulations require them to record their decision in writing and include in the record a statement of the reasons for their decision. The claimant must be given written notice of the decision with a summary of the record which will include the reasons.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services in how many cases his Department has assisted claimants for vaccine damage payments by obtaining further medical records or other evidence at their request to support the original submission to the tribunal; if he will take steps to ensure that all claimants are told that the Department is willing to help them in this way; and if he will ask claimants to inform him if they have difficulty in getting medical evidence.

The Department has always been prepared to assist in this way and has done so on many occasions, but there is no record of the number of cases concerned. However we have recently made it clear to all claimants requesting a tribunal review that the Department will apply on their behalf for any additional relevant evidence.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give, for each of the vaccine damage payment tribunals in different parts of the United Kingdom, the percentage of the cases reviewed which were awarded a payment; and if he will give details about the tribunals still operating including their location and the frequency of their sitting.

The locations of the vaccine damage tribunals and the percentages of cases reviewed by them up to 8 January 1982 where an award has been made, are:

Percentage
Belfast20
Cardiff26
Edinburgh18
Leeds26
London27
Manchester32
Nottingham38
All 7 tribunals are still in operation and sit when required.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give the medical qualifications of those who are currently assessing claims for vaccine damage payments at the initial stage, and the medical qualifications of those currently sitting on tribunals for vaccine damage payments.

Tribunal members are usually consultant physicians, neurologists and paediatricians and are members or fellows of the Royal College of Physicians. Occasionally, where relevant, a consultant surgeon, fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, might serve. Departmental medical staff involved in the initial level of adjudication are not categorised in the same way and the composition of the unit changes from time to time; they do however have access to consultants' opinions on claims where required.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give figures showing the percentage of those rejected at the initial stage of the vaccine damage tribunal who requested a review, for each six-month period since the Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979 came into operation.

Available information is as follows:

Number of medical disallowances at initial stageNumber of reviews requested
9 May 1978–11 December 1978NilNil
1 January 1979–30 June 19791,267488
1 July 1979–31 December 1979840719
1 January 1980–30 June 19809197
1 July 1980–31 December 19804242
1 January 1981–30 June 19813917
1 July 1981–31 December 19813027
Total2,309* 1,390
* 60 per cent.
Note: The figures in the two columns do not relate within each period and individual percentages are not therefore given.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many claims for vaccine damage payment have been rejected because there was insufficient medical evidence to support the claim; and if he will institute an independent inquiry into the quality and availability of medical records related to vaccine damage claims.

Figures are not available, but it is rare for sufficient records not to be obtained to enable a proper decision to be made.In 1980 new guidance on retention of records was issued asking health authorities to retain children's records, including vaccination records, until the patients reach their twenty-fifth birthday or eight years after the last entry whichever is the longer period. This guidance should be increasingly effective in respect of new claims. An inquiry into the availability of records in respect of older claims would serve no useful purpose.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish in the Official Report the latest total figures relating to the vaccine damage payments scheme, giving information about the claims, the decisions, the pending cases and the future; if he will give separate figures for claims and their subsequent history for each of the complete years that the scheme has been in operation; and if he will include percentage success figures for claimants at the initial stage and at the review tribunals.

Information, up to 5 February 1982, is as follows:

Awards
1. Claims—received2,764
—withdrawn7
Effective claims2,757
2. Claims initially determined:
(a) awards made347347
(b) claims disallowed because the Secretary of State is not satisfied that—
(i) the statutory conditions under Section 2 of the Act are fulfilled83
(ii) the disabled person was severely damaged as a result of vaccination2,314
3. Claims not yet determined:13
2,757
4. Awards made after original disallowance3
5. Requests for review1,395
withdrawn89
Effective requests1,306
6. Reviews determined of which—1,178
Awards made331331
Disallowances upheld847
1,178
7. Reviews not yet decided128
8. Total Awards1,306681
The 128 cases awaiting review by tribunal are mainly cases where determination is deferred at the claimant's request.The numbers of Claims received at year endings December 1979, 1980 and 1981 were 2,545, 2,674 and 2,746 respectively but the subsequent history of claims by annual groups is not available.13 per cent. are successful at the initial decision stage and 28 per cent. of those reviewed by a tribunal.Claims are currently being received at approximately 4 per month and requests for review by a tribunal at 3 per month.