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House of Commons Hansard
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National Blood Service: Reorganisation
06 March 2007
Volume 457
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To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons the number of National Blood Service processing and testing centres are being reduced from 11 to three; and why Red Cell Reference laboratories is to be removed from sites of major blood supply. [121799]

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The National Blood Service (NBS) infrastructure is not fully adequate for modern processing and testing requirements. The testing and processing facilities require investment and modernisation which is planned as part of the national health service blood and transplant service strategy. The NBS plans to modernise its estate by investing in three blood processing and testing facilities. These will be located in Filton (Bristol), Manchester and Colindale. This configuration provides a good geographical spread of activity, maximising productivity, while maintaining adequate contingency and flexibility.

This will not impact on the local availability of products and services to patients. NBS will maintain a network of local blood banks to ensure hospitals and patients continue to get the blood and blood components they need.

NBS are aiming to reduce the number of red cell immunohaematology (RCI) reference facilities from the current 11 to five. Only by doing so can NBS be sure that there is a sufficient critical mass of the experienced, qualified staff required to deliver an expert reference immunohaematology service to hospitals, and that NBS have the necessary high quality facilities and equipment.

The RCI laboratory locations have been chosen to provide good access by all hospitals served by the NBS, and are appropriate to support the delivery of required services. All remaining RCI laboratories will continue to be on the same site as blood issue centres, ensuring immediate access to blood for crossmatching.

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the effect on costs of blood transportation of moving to three blood processing and testing centres. [121800]

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Transport and logistics were a key consideration in planning the new configuration of the National Blood Service (NBS). The new centre at Bristol (Filton) is due to open first and therefore more detailed work on the transport network in the south west has been carried out although the model used for Filton will also apply to the other two centres in Manchester and Colindale.

As far as possible the NBS will be utilising existing transport runs and using the blood issue centres as hubs from which bulk deliveries will be made back to the processing and testing centre. There will be an increase in the mileage, although this is likely to be minimal, and the savings the NBS are making as a result of the reconfiguration of services far outweigh the increased cost of transport.