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The Cuts Programme

This statement is taken from the Save our Blood Service campaign facebook group.

“Join the Facebook group”

Iww Nbs's Facebook profile


What is the NBS

The National Blood Service is a vital part of the NHS. It delivers
blood, blood products and tissues from 15 blood centres for
transfusion to patients anywhere in England and North Wales.

It depends entirely on voluntary donations given generously by the
general public.

NBS processing labs filter donations and split them into components
including red cells (often used for operations or major traumas),
white cells (often used for leukaemia patients), frozen plasma (often
used for serious burns victims) and platelets (used for those who have
disorders with clotting).

NBS testing labs test every unit to determine which group it belongs
to. Every donation is also rigorously screened for infections so that
it is safe for patients. The blood which patients receive is specially
matched to their individual medical needs and can make the difference
between life and death.

NBS staff are highly experienced and trained in the latest transfusion
science research available.

Every year the NBS collects, tests, processes, stores and issues 2.1
million blood donations.

Our National Health Service would not be able to function without the
National Blood Service.


The National Blood Service is under severe attack from a risky and
unworkable restructuring strategy. We want the public, including blood
donors and patients, to be aware of the whole situation, as
stakeholders, alongside the staff, in the future of the Service.

It is proposed that all local processing and testing labs be closed,
and their functions condensed into just three ‘supercentres’ to serve
the whole of England and North Wales, in Bristol, Manchester and

The rationale for this plan is a short-sighted financial one. The
strategy was boasted about in the Financial Times before it was even
announced to affected staff. Directors are justifying centralisation
because the demand from hospitals for red cells is currently falling,
while the cost of each pack of red cells is rising. It suits them to
assume this projected decline in demand will continue, despite an
aging UK population and looming threats such as a flu pandemic. Other
service areas that the NBS provides, like platelets and transplants,
are growing, but this seems to be ignored to fit with the
market-minded strategy.

A study for respected journal Vox Sanguinis by Dr. A Pereira found
that larger blood processing and testing centres do not necessarily
lead to economies of scale.
Link here – registration needed for full text, but overview available to all.


What we say

tightening the purse strings to win praise from the Department of

The National Blood Service is in fact a financially successful and
efficient part of the NHS, which, unlike many health Trusts, is not in
debt. The management proposals are purely based on cost-cutting and
speculation by accountants. NBS bosses have no problem with spending
undisclosed thousands of taxpayers’ money on parasitic external
consultancy agencies.

The NBS directors plan to make overall 600 staff – half of the
laboratory workforce – redundant. They claim this will save the
service millions. These are highly specialised and skilled staff, many
of whom have worked for the NBS for decades, and have never worked
anywhere else. Opportunities for transfer to the new supercentres or
suitable redeployment elsewhere in the crisis-stricken NHS are few and
far between.

The new supercentres will be huge factories running on harsh
anti-social 24 hour shift rotas to cope with the workload. At each
site the NBS will have to wastefully recruit and train new workers,
having just thrown the existing loyal workforce onto the scrapheap.

There are fears about road congestion delaying the smooth flow of
products around the country. The ability to respond in case of major
incident could be compromised. There will be no south-east centre
outside the M25, no centre at all north of London to the east of the
Pennines, and no centre for the West Midlands (including the diverse
needs of the second city, Birmingham). Police figures back up staff
concerns about jams on long south-west transport routes. Blood
collections from local mobile sessions and permanent donor centres
would have to be driven hundreds of miles around the country to and
from the supercentres, putting even more reliance on an already
overloaded and frequently clogged up motorway network, and shortening
the life-span of the products. The same would apply for patients’
samples, increasing the risk of them being misplaced, wrongly stored
or wrongly labelled.

Although the NBS vehicle fleet has been commended for its use of green
fuel, adding to traffic volume is bad for the environment. Consider
the effects of a major road traffic accident. There will be people
needing blood which cannot be delivered because of the traffic chaos
caused by the same accident. The suggestion of transporting blood by
helicopter in an emergency is ludicrous – they have to be crewed and
maintained which would be an impossible cost.

The official line is that services which need to be close to hospitals
will stay there, like the issue blood banks. Staff believe otherwise.
Patients have died waiting to be rushed a ‘washed’ platelet from the
local centre. ‘Washing’ is just one of many special processes done by
the components lab – which is being centralised. 40% of samples
crossmatched by the special investigations department (on-call day and
night, 365 days a year) are classed as ’emergency’.

Staff do not believe that centralisation will make the Blood Service
more efficient. At local centres they have good working relationships
with service users, and essential knowledge of the day-to-day and
hour-to-hour needs of nearby hospitals and patients. Hospitals could
be forced to spend more on training their own haematology staff,
larger storage capacity and reagents for their own testing.

Despite what the directors say, neither employees or service users
have had any meaningful input into the strategy – the service’s future
is being dictated to us all from on high.

Campaign contact: nbs.sos@googlemail.com

Join the Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5184094175


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