LETTER : A more efficient blood service

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From Mr John Adey

Sir: Your article "Blood service crisis as staff exodus bites" (9 October) contains several inaccuracies. We are not proposing to close any blood centres. All existing centres would remain open but the processing and testing of blood donations, currently conducted in all 15 centres, will be consolidated in 10.

The proposals for reorganising the service came not from independent consultants but from working groups of blood service staff. Outside consultants were used to analyse data. The aim of the proposals is not "to trim pounds 10m from the annual budget" but to produce a blood service that is even more safe, reliable and efficient.

Your claims about staff losses imply that centres are understaffed or contain inappropriately qualified personnel. This is not the case and the blood service continues to maintain its usual high standard.

Finally the NHS is not making money out of blood donors. The amount of blood collected is determined by the needs of hospitals to provide transfusions. The plasma from blood donations can also be used to manufacture blood products such as Factor VIII and albumin for use in the treatment of patients. If a surplus of any blood product remains after satisfying NHS demand then it may be offered for sale abroad. The receipts from such sales come back into the NHS and offset the cost to the taxpayer of manufacturing the product. Donors have always indicated that the sale abroad of any surplus is preferable to the alternative, which is to burn it.

Yours sincerely,

John Adey

Chief Executive

National Blood Service

Watford, Hertfordshire