Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Thursday, 20 December 2012

Government announces 80m for Thalidomide survivors

The government has revealed that an organisation representing Thalidomide survivors will receive £80m of government funding over 10 years.

Making a statement to MPs on 20 December 2012, Care Minister Norman Lamb told MPs The Thalidomide Trust will have its three-year pilot grant extended for a decade when it ends in March next year.

The money must be spent on health-related purchases which includes medical care but also projects such as promoting social inclusion, adapting homes and vehicles, and providing hearing aids.

Between 1958 and 1961 the drug Thalidomide was used by expectant mothers to control symptoms of morning sickness but it led to babies being born physically disabled.

Mr Lamb said: "It struck me that there was a powerful case to provide long-time stability and funding. Society has a responsibility to this group of people."

The money would give "the maximum power and control to the individual to meet their needs", Mr Lamb said.

Shadow health minister Liz Kendall said survivors waited far too long for governments over many years to address the "appalling physical and emotional difficulties" they faced as a result of Thalidomide prescribed by the NHS.

She said: "The last government took the first steps towards addressing this unacceptable situation. In January 2010 the then minister for health rightly offered our sincere regret and deep sympathy for the injury and suffering endured by all those whose expectant mothers took the Thalidomide drug."

The funding is for Thalidomide survivors in England only, with devolved administrations to consider how to fund a grant in their own area.

There are 325 Thalidomide survivors in England who are beneficiaries of the trust, while 431 people are represented UK-wide.

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