New National Blood Service Announced

  • Bill English

Health Minister Bill English today announced the structure and organisation of the new National Blood Service which will be responsible for the supply of safe, high quality blood and blood components in New Zealand.

"The National Blood Service will be an independent organisation whose only responsibility will be for blood and blood-related issues.

"It will have a not-for-profit status set in legislation and the gift status of blood will be protected. It will begin operation on 1 July, 1998.

"The number of blood processing and testing sites around the country will be reduced from 19 to three specialist processing and testing centres located in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. An additional three sub-processing centres may be set-up in Hamilton, Palmerston North and Dunedin. The number of processing and testing centres has been reduced to further improve the safety of the blood supply, and to reduce risks associated with multiple testing laboratories.

"All other existing blood centres will become blood collection sites. They will continue to collect blood to be processed and tested by the National Blood Service. The collection sites will also be responsible for the maintenance of blood banks and routine cross-matching."

Mr English said these decisions reflected advice from the National Blood Service Establishment Committee (NBSEC) following wide consultation with the blood sector and analysis of issues raised in the report by Dr John Carter and Mr Keith Marshall Review of the Blood Sector - December 1996.

"Work will also be carried out by the NBSEC to co-ordinate blood stocks to prevent shortages, and to make the best possible use of all the blood collected. Further improvements to the safety of the blood supply will be developed by the introduction of uniform standard operating procedures and other processes," he said.

The National Blood Service will have a small national office, but will provide most of its services through the facilities currently operating in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. A board would be appointed by the Minister.