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NHS Blood and Transplant Commercial Review

Volume 533: debated on Tuesday 18 October 2011

The Department’s commercial review of NHS blood and transplant (NHSBT) has now concluded.

The review was an outcome of the Department of Health’s review of arm’s length bodies (ALBs), which concluded that there were strong arguments for retaining the majority of NHSBT’s functions within a single national system. However, it also concluded that there could be opportunities for more cost-effective operations and commercial arrangement within the divisions of NHSBT.

The review examined NHSBT’s non-donor facing activities, including, estates, testing, processing and logistics, with the aim of helping NHSBT further improve the efficiency of its operations.

The review has made a number of recommendations to support the continued improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation, which includes working with NHS and other organisations to make more efficient use of voluntarily donated blood.

There are nine recommendations from the review:

that more work, with strategic leadership from the Department of Health and the Welsh Government, should be done both at national and trust level to support trusts, in achieving and maintaining best practice, to reduce the inappropriate use of red cells, platelets and fresh frozen plasma; this would in turn reduce demand and direct costs on NHSBT;

that NHSBT should work with internal and external stakeholders, and publicise its operational and technical data requirements at the trust interface, so that the development of independent stock and operational systems at trusts remain compatible with NHSBT systems;

that NHSBT should continue to develop its pilot studies on integrated transfusion services and should publish the findings and results;

that as NHSBT pilots and launches services with particular trusts, it should maintain a clear segregation (in accounting and reporting) between its developing transfusion services and its core blood supply service;

that NHSBT should monitor alternative provider capability, particularly if there are “make or buy” decisions. Before investing in development projects, NHSBT should ensure it checks whether products or services are already available from existing providers;

that in its current investigation of the requirements for the NHS organ donor register, NHSBT should ensure it has access to all necessary skills and resources to ensure the register is successfully developed and is fit for purpose;

the Department of Health should pursue opportunities for efficiencies within the UK blood services with the other UK Health Departments;

that NHSBT should ensure complete transparency in its financial reporting between its different services and its separate funding sources. The Department of Health should review whether any formal changes to its financial instructions to NHSBT are required to facilitate this; and

that the Department of Health reviews and oversees the mechanism for setting the blood price. The new process to be agreed with NHSBT and the other key stakeholders as a method that continues to command the confidence of NHSBT’s customers, takes account of blood policy and safety requirements, drives improvements in operational and financial efficiency and is transparent.

A copy of “NHS Blood and Transplant Commercial Review” has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.