Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services
I am pleased to announce that people living with the long-term effects of thalidomide in Wales will continue to have access to the Thalidomide Trust health grant, after the existing 10-year agreement is due to end in March 2023. We will provide a lifetime guarantee of financial assistance.
Thalidomide was approved and licensed for distribution in the UK in April 1958 and withdrawn in December 1961, when it was found to have caused serious birth defects in babies born to women who took the drug during pregnancy.
Most thalidomide survivors are now aged 60 or older. Like everyone, their needs will inevitably increase with age. But thalidomide survivors will face additional challenges.
A 10-year funding programme to support thalidomide survivors has been in place in Wales and the other three UK countries since 2013. An annual grant is paid to the
The Thalidomide Trust which manages applications from thalidomide survivors for financial support for a wide range of health purposes. These include costs associated with pain management, personal assistance and personal care, mobility and independence and access to bespoke healthcare interventions.
A key feature of the grant is that each beneficiary is able to personalise the way they spend it, providing them with the autonomy to make decisions based on their individual needs and preferences. The only restriction applied is that services and support funded by the grant do not duplicate treatment and care available from the NHS or funded through a different source, such as a personal budget or other statutory funding.
A total of £7.317m has been transferred from the Welsh Government to the Thalidomide Trust since the start of the current agreement in 2013. A further £0.948m has been agreed for the current final year (2022-23). In 2023-24, I have agreed a grant allocation of £1.058m which will be uplifted in future years in line with inflation. Arrangements for regular reviews of the funding commitment have been agreed with the Trust, which will take into account the projected number of beneficiaries to be supported through the health grant and the underlying needs which the grant is intended to meet.
I hope this guarantee of lifetime financial support via the health grant gives survivors reassurance about help being available for their ongoing health needs, supporting them to maintain their independence and wellbeing.