Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Health and Social Services
My predecessor made a commitment to consider the future provision of blood services in Wales. I would now like to take the opportunity, during National Blood Week, to set out my intentions for blood services in Wales.
For a number of years, Wales has been served by two blood transfusion services, the Welsh Blood Service (WBS), hosted by Velindre NHS Trust, provides services to Mid and South Wales and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), an England and Wales special health authority, provides blood services to North Wales. Whilst we are fortunate to be served by two high quality, professional organisations, we need to put in place a sustainable arrangement which fits our national aspirations for our Welsh Health Service.
Together for Health sets out the Welsh Government’s vision of how the NHS will look in five years. It builds on the work already undertaken to make the NHS in Wales more streamlined and integrated. It recognises the need to reconfigure and modernise services. Services change and evolve through local initiatives, reflecting changing demography, need and technology. This will inevitably and increasingly lead to different drivers within the two blood services which operate within Wales.
In this context, now is the right time to move towards creating an all-Wales Blood Service. Working in this integrated way will allow us to plan better and build further resilience to ensure the long term security of collection, processing, testing and supply of blood. Patients, donors and hospitals will still receive the same high quality service as now.
My officials have already met WBS and NHSBT. Both organisations are willing to work together in a pragmatic way on a number of immediate issues, with a view to putting in place longer term arrangements. I want to ensure we take time to make the transition as smooth as possible and without any risk to the quality and sustainability of blood supplies, as well as providing a safe and high quality service to all the loyal blood donors without whom the blood services would not exist. My commitment is to facilitate a move towards an all-Wales Blood Service by 2016, although I expect significant progress to be made by 2014.
This work will now be taken forward in conjunction with both organisations, including their staff representatives. I will be receiving regular updates and will keep Members informed of progress.