Intended for healthcare professionals


Reforming England's blood transfusion service

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 25 November 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1383
  1. Sally C Davies
  1. Consultant haematologist Department of Haematology, Central Middlesex Hospital, London NW10 7NS

    Why the changes and why the delay?

    The blood transfusion service in England is changing. In precipitating change the British government has unleashed an ill informed and acrimonious debate in the media and elsewhere. Although the change itself may be necessary, the process has been poorly handled, and delays in the implementation of decisions now risk damaging an essential service.

    With the dissolution of the 14 regional health authorities in England and their replacement in April this year with eight regional offices of the NHS Executive, the regional blood transfusion centres could not have been left unchanged. The government's strategy was to establish a new special health authority, the National Blood Authority, to take their place. The National Blood Authority, set up in 1993 undertook a national review of the provision, costs, and structure of services.

    Such a review was long overdue. There was, and still is, wide variation in the quality of products and clinical services offered by the 14 centres. In 1987 Professor John Cash highlighted this variation,1 but the anomalous situation has drawn little public comment. This is generally attributed to the fact that consultants in transfusion …

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