December 13, 2006 09:59 ET

Protest Against Cuts in the Blood Service


LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 13, 2006) - Amicus members at the National Blood Service will take part in a protest demonstration outside the Blood Centre in Colindale Avenue at 1.00 p.m. this Thursday, 14th December 06.

They will be protesting over plans to concentrate the work of processing and testing blood into just three centres in England and reducing most of the other eleven centres where this work is done at present to little more than refrigerated ware-houses in future.

Even though Colindale has been named as one of the three "Super Centres", the staff believe that the strategy is mis-guided. The blood supply for the whole of South-East England could be put at risk if an emergency in North-West London were to damage the Colindale Centre or cut its transport links. An emergency at Filton would deprive the Midlands and South-West of blood, and one at Manchester would have a similar effect on the North.

Accident victims with rare blood groups will face delays in the transport of their samples for matching with suitable donated blood, unless they happen to be near one of the few centres where this will still be done.

Blood donated in distant places such as Cambridge or Brighton will have to be transported to Colindale for processing and testing, and then taken back to places such as Cambridge or Brighton for use in their hospitals. Transport distances will be even longer between Manchester and the North-East, and between Filton and the East Midlands. This will lead to an increase in the use of petrol and diesel, which will contribute to air pollution and global warming. As the price of transport is likely to be increased by higher excise duty on fuel, road pricing, and/or a carbon tax, the financial arguments for having fewer blood centres are questionable.

The plan will also lead to the loss of experienced qualified scientific and technical staff from the blood service.

The staff are asking for meaningful consultation with the trade unions and the local communities. The trade union Amicus says that the existing blood centres need to be replaced with at least five national centres.

Owen Granfield, a Regional Officer of Amicus, has said

"This is a wake up call to senior management who need to sit down with Amicus and talk about the future of the service, job security and what partnership means.
This mirrors exactly what is wrong with the NHS reform agenda. Modernisation is being rushed through without engagement and consultation with either staff or local communities.

Furthermore, hundreds of technical and scientific staff jobs are being put at risk and these highly skilled jobs cannot just be recruited or relocated to different parts of the country. The NHS and the nation has invested millions in training these staff and now proposes to just dispose of them.

The geographical gaps in service will also mean delays for the vital testing of blood for many thousands of people"

Contact Information

  • Amicus Press Office
    Ciaran Naidoo
    07768 931315