Blood service review attacked

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The Independent Online
A group of haematologists has warned that the national reorganisation of blood services currently under way is having a damaging effect on services in their region, it emerged yesterday.

A leaked letter from consultants in Oxford has led Liberal Democrats to claim that the National Blood Authority is making "misleading" claims about the standard of services under their control. The letter says consultants have problems obtaining special blood products on time for some patients dependent on transfusions.

It is also claimed that some children have been given adult blood products due to a shortage of resources. Dr Evan Harris, the Lib Dem health spokesman, has called for the resignation of the NBA's chairman, Sir Colin Walker, and wants an independent review into clinical concerns.

Early this week Frank Dobson, the Secretary of State for Health, announced a review into concerns about proposals for the transfer of bulk processing and testing of blood from Liverpool to Manchester.

The transfer from Merseyside is part of a shake up of the NBA which involves amalgamating some of the centres to make the service more efficient and to improve quality standards.

Three similar proposals have already been completed - from Lancaster to Manchester, from Oxford to Bristol, and from Cambridge to Brentwood.

Sir Colin welcomed Mr Dobson's announcement and claimed that in all three areas "the quality of our service to hospitals has improved".

But Dr Harris said: "Either the NBA has no idea of the problems their changes have caused, or they are deliberately misleading donors, patients and politicians when they claim that service quality has improved in Oxford. Those at the sharp edge of delivering patient care are not getting a satisfactory service.''

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