Press release

Improving efficiency in blood and organ donation

The Department of Health today published a report on NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT)

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) must continue its work to improve services ensuring that blood supplies are used appropriately, efficiently and safely, a Department of Health report published today states.

With growing pressures on the NHS and in line with the wider NHS reforms, the recommendations in the Commercial Review are designed to ensure that the Department of Health and NHSBT work together to maximise opportunities for efficiencies, allowing more money to be made available for frontline patient care.

Recommendations made in the report include:

  • NHSBT continuing to work with trusts to minimise waste and improve management of blood supplies;
  • Exploring opportunities to improve efficiencies by closer working across the four UK Blood Services; and,
  • Maximising efficiencies wherever possible - for example purchasing specialist equipment.

The report also cites recent findings that, despite improvements in the way that hospitals use blood supplies, around one in five blood transfusions are given when it is not clinically necessary.

Public Health Minister Anne Milton said:

“NHS Blood and Transplant is one of the most trusted parts of the health service, and is commended for the efficiencies it has already achieved. However, the review shows that further improvements can be made  - improvement that health professionals want and patients need.

“The review gives us a real opportunity to make a difference to a service that is relied upon across the country. I would also urge hospitals to look at the recommendations and see how they could improve their use of blood to both improve the care of patients and save unnecessary expenditure.”

NHSBT Chief Executive Lynda Hamlyn, said:

“We are delighted that the findings of the review endorse our unique and valuable role in saving lives through voluntary donation and that despite speculation in the media there are no recommendations** **to privatise NHSBT. We will continue our work to improve our services at least cost to the taxpayer.

“We are working in partnership with trusts to identify ways we can better improve the management of blood and blood products within hospitals - so that we make best use of the voluntary donations from our 1.4 million donors. We plan to pilot a number of different models in the coming year and are confident we can improve performance and deliver further efficiencies to reinvest in frontline patient care.”

Following this review, a set of NHSBT pilots will be launched in early 2012. These new sites will be working in partnership with NHSBT, focussing on specific areas highlighted in the review to improve the blood and transplant service, including better stock management and a joint transfusion laboratory partnership.


Notes to Editors

1)     For media enquires about the Commercial Review of Blood and Transplant, please contact the Department of Health newsdesk, on 020 7210 5221.

2)     A copy of the Review can be found on the Department of Health website, by following this link.

3)     NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a Special Health Authority in the NHS. It is the organ donor organisation for the UK and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs. Its remit also includes the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England and north Wales.

4) The Review was an outcome of the Department of Health’s review of arm’s-length bodies (ALBs), which concluded that there were strong arguments for retaining the majority of NHSBT’s functions within a single national system. However, it also concluded that there may be opportunities for more cost-effective operations and commercial arrangement within the divisions of NHSBT, such as contracting out some discrete functions, provided there was no conflict with public health considerations in relation to quality, safety and consistency across the blood, tissue and transplant services. See link

Published 18 October 2011