Patient safety commissioner warns calls for changes are 'falling on deaf ears'

England's patient safety commissioner says her calls for changes following failings highlighted in three health scandals are "falling on deaf ears".

Dr Henrietta Hughes made the comments at a meeting in Westminster on Tuesday of MPs and campaigners of medical scandals.

It comes after Sir Brian Langstaff's highlighted a decades-long "subtle, pervasive, chilling" cover-up by successive governments and the NHS in the conclusion of his report on the infected blood scandal.

Like the victims of that scandal, those affected by epilepsy drug Valproate, as well as vaginal mesh implants, and the hormone pregnancy test Primodos, are also waiting on the government to implement a redress scheme.

The three campaign groups have already had a combined review. In June 2020, the Cumberlege review found similar failings to the blood scandal: damaging products, poor regulatory decisions, and one government after another refusing to accept wrong had been done.

Baroness Cumberlege recommended financial redress for women left in chronic pain by mesh implants and help for the children of mothers who used Valproate and Primodos during pregnancy, who live with life-changing birth defects.

The report concluded that all these products caused "avoidable harm".

In February this year, the patient safety commissioner set out her "blueprint" of a redress scheme for victims.

However, Ms Hughes, who attended the First Do No Harm All Parliamentary group meeting, said on Tuesday: "I'm itching to get the changes that are needed, but I feel my words are falling on deaf ears."

She added: "I've met with politicians who don't get the right information to keep people safe - information which is held back by officials."

The government is yet to say whether it will implement her redress plan, but they have recently turned down a request from Primodos campaigners to review the scientific evidence about the drug.

In answer to a question tabled in parliament on 18 April, health minister Maria Caulfield said the government remains "hugely sympathetic to the families who believe that they have suffered as a result of using hormone pregnancy tests".

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The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) told Sky News in March that "they are not closing the door" and have "committed to reviewing any new scientific evidence".

They added: "It's right that the government is led by scientific evidence and the government's position remains that, after reviewing the available evidence, it does not support a causal association between the use of hormone pregnancy tests and adverse outcomes in pregnancy."

Diana Johnson MP, who campaigned for 14 years for recognition of infected blood victims, said: "It's depressing to hear the parallels between the infected blood inquiry and the Primodos, Mesh and Valproate scandals."

She added that even the defensive language used in letters from the department of health had a familiar tone to the correspondence she received over the years.

The most common and frustrating expression used, she said, was: "We are moving at pace."

Ms Johnson advised MPs and campaigners that to replicate the success of the infected blood cause, they have to "keep pushing" and "never give up".

She added: "Ken Clarke once described Theresa May as a 'difficult woman' and that's what you have to be - difficult."