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Poots announces 10 year settlement for thalidomide survivors

Health Minister Edwin Poots has said that he will extend the current health grant for thalidomide survivors in Northern Ireland for a further 10 years.
Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Minister’s decision is in line with similar action in the rest of the UK.

Mr Poots said: “I have met with a number of thalidomide survivors and have been impressed with the dignified way in which they have pressed their case for a continuation of the current health grant.

“I am therefore delighted to announce that the grant will be extended for a further 10 years. This will provide some degree of security to thalidomide survivors in NI and will allow them to plan more effectively for their futures.”

Notes to editors:

1. Thalidomide was a medicine first marketed and available on a prescription only basis in the UK from April 1958. It was used very widely for, among other problems, common symptoms of early pregnancy. Thalidomide was withdrawn from use in the early 1960’s after it was discovered that it was responsible for producing harmful effects to the foetus when given in early pregnancy. These effects, which could develop after a single dose, involved mainly malformation of the limbs and defects of the ears, eyes and internal organs. Further abnormalities and problems, including effects on the central nervous system (CNS), developed in later life.

2. The Thalidomide Children's Trust was established in 1973, with the object of providing support to those people who had disabilities caused because their mothers had taken the drug during pregnancy. A total of 493 people have been accepted by the Trust as beneficiaries to date, but over the same period 40 have died.

3. The thalidomide health grant was established in 2010 following a statement by Mike O’Brien, then Minister of State for Health Services, that compensation was being made available for thalidomide survivors in England. Similar arrangements were made in Scotland and Wales.

4. Media queries about this press release to DHSSPS Information Office on 028 9052 0571, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be immediately returned.