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Written Statement - All Wales Blood Service

Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services

The Welsh Government made a commitment in June 2012 to create an All-Wales Blood Service. I am pleased to announce that from May 2, 2016 Wales will have a single, unified service in which every blood and blood product donation in Wales will directly support Welsh patients.

Currently, the collection, processing and distribution of blood products is undertaken by the Welsh Blood Service in South, Mid and West Wales and NHS Blood and Transplant in North Wales.

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. Blood is essential element in the health service and must therefore be at the heart of our health service. The move to an all-Wales service will ensure Wales has sustainable arrangements in place which fit with our national aspirations for the NHS.

The Welsh Blood Service has worked closely with NHS Blood and Transplant, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee, and other key partners to develop proposals for the new all-Wales service. This has been a considerable team effort and I would like to extend my thanks to everyone involved in helping shape the new arrangements and for their efforts in ensuring a smooth transition to the new service.

The supply of blood to hospitals across North Wales depends on the continued loyalty of donors in North Wales. I want the transition to the new all-Wales service to be seamless – care is therefore 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.

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

Donated blood will be delivered to a new unit in Wrexham but will be processed in the Talbot Green laboratories. 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 slightly 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.

The all-Wales service will realise the following benefits:

  • 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; 8 new jobs will be created in Wrexham and eight 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 annually.

The all-Wales service presents opportunities for co-ordinated and collaborative efforts on the prudent use of blood components; optimising efficiencies and minimising waste. The service is committed to using new technology and scientific developments to ensure every Welsh pound invested in blood-related services meets the needs of the people of Wales.

While a significant amount of work has been done so far, there is still much to do. Transitional plans are being finalised to ensure the safe transfer of services.

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. The creation of an all-Wales service will ensure value for money for Wales while maintaining a high-quality service.