New National Blood Service for Wales to be created

A new All-Wales Blood Service will be created to ensure every blood donation in Wales directly supports patients in Wales, the Welsh Government announced today (Wednesday July 8).

A new All-Wales Blood Service will be created to ensure every blood donation in Wales directly supports patients in Wales, the Welsh Government announced today (Wednesday July 8).

The new service, to be provided by the Welsh Blood Service, will secure and create jobs in Wales; make more efficient use of blood products; set up more blood donor clinics across North Wales and save money.

Two organisations currently deal with blood donation and supply in Wales. The collection, processing and distribution of blood products is carried out by the Welsh Blood Service in South, Mid and West Wales and NHS Blood and Transplant collects blood in North Wales. From May 2016, a single service – the Welsh Blood Service – will serve all the country.

The benefits of the changes include:

  • The service will be more effective, resilient and responsive to the needs of Wales;
  • 41 NHS Blood and Transplant staff transferring to the All-Wales Blood Service will have their jobs secured; 8new jobs will be created in Wrexham and 8 new jobs will be created in South Wales;
  • There will be an extra 25 donation clinics;
  • There will be long-term savings of £596,000 every year.

Cath O’Brien, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “We are looking forward to extending our first class services to life-saving donors across the whole of Wales. From May 2016, every donor who donates in Wales will be primarily supporting the patients of Welsh hospitals.

“We have been working closely with NHS Blood and Transplant to make sure the transfer is as smooth as possible and to keep staff, donors and hospitals fully updated on the progress we are making.”

Health & Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“Modern medicine relies on the ready availability of blood and blood products and the Welsh Blood Service has an enviable reputation for providing services, which are safe, reliable and efficient. An all-Wales service will ensure value for money for Wales while maintaining a high-quality service.

“The service will use the latest technology and scientific developments to ensure every Welsh pound invested in blood-related services meets the needs of the people of Wales.”

Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:

“I want the transition to an all-Wales service to be seamless. Care is being taken to reassure all donors in Wales of the valuable gift they provide when they donate blood and to avoid any disruption in collection arrangements. The new service aims to retain current donors’ loyalty; encourage new donors to come forward and re-engage with lapsed donors.

“NHS Blood and Transplant has provided a vital service to people living in North Wales and is not being asked to end its services because of any failure on its part. The move to an all-Wales service will ensure we have sustainable arrangements in place which fit with our national aspirations for the Welsh NHS.”

The skilled workforce employed by NHS Blood and Transplant in North Wales will transfer to the new All-Wales Blood Service. Teams in Bangor and Wrexham will run a combination of community and mobile blood donation sessions across North Wales; collections will continue at venues currently used and the new service will set up new clinics in workplaces and other locations.

Donated blood will be delivered to a new unit in Wrexham for onward transit to be processed in the existing Talbot Green laboratory in South Wales. Once processed, it will be returned to Wrexham for onward distribution to Ysbyty Bangor, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Wrexham Maelor Hospital. These hospitals will hold larger stocks of blood, reducing the need for ad hoc and emergency deliveries. UK blood services have a reciprocal arrangement if rare or urgent blood is needed.