LETTERS: On line for blood service reform

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The Independent Online
From Mr Gary Barr

Sir: It is difficult to understand how the National Blood Authority's national IT system could be called a "runaway disaster" ("Blood chief resigns over computer 'disaster' fear", 27 July). There is unanimous agreement that a national system is needed to replace the 14 current systems and that it will bring safety and quality benefits for patients and donors.

The proposals for the new system have been developed by a group of experts working within the service who have spent a total of over seven man-years on the project. Both shortlisted suppliers have been used by the service for many years and their systems are currently responsible for about a third of England's blood supplies. All transfusion centres have been consulted in detail over the planned system and the proposed timetable for implementation, and both suppliers agree that the timescale is reasonable.

In a meeting with Lee Hitchins [who has resigned as head of computing at the Oxford blood transfusion centre] a few months ago, he said that he was largely reassured about the proposed system. He was invited to visit me and the project team to discuss his remaining concerns but has yet to take up this offer.

Once the National Blood Authority receives approval for its business case, the tendering exercise can begin immediately; and implementation of the new system should be completed within two years.

Yours faithfully,

Gary Barr

National IT Manager

National Blood Authority

Watford, Hertfordshire

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