Letter: Give donors a say over sale of blood

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The Independent Online
Sir: You were correct in devoting a leading article today to the scandalous matter of the supply of blood

to the Health Care International (HCI) establishment at Clydebank. But the conclusion you reached - so long as HCI is charged for the blood then all is nearly well - is based on the false premise that the charge to be levied is one fair to our NHS and its Scottish Blood Transfusion Service.

Before 1983 private hospitals and clinics got public blood for nothing. No charge of any kind was levied and few were the wiser.

Uncovering the subsidy, East Glasgow Health Council began a campaign to have charges levied. With the assistance of MPs and involved trade unions, the government was persuaded to place a 'handling charge' of pounds 19 per unit. This has risen by small steps over the past decade to the pounds 36.75 going rate which HCI will pay.

However, this charge should be four or five times higher. A fair 'handling charge' should, in 1994, be at least pounds 150 per unit and perhaps as much as pounds 200. Taking the lower figure, and calculating that HCI at Clydebank could call on 9,500 units (plus platelet concentrates) per year, available by way of the Government's 1987 agreement with the company, we arrive at an annual subsidy of the Clydebank hospital of not less than pounds 1m.

Yours faithfully,

JIM BRUNTON

Edinburgh

7 March

The writer was Secretary of the East Glasgow Health Council, 1980-1991.

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