By Max Clarke

Comments from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) chief executive Lynda Hamlyn suggesting the service is to remain ‘in-house’ have been welcomed by unions who had campaigned to see the voluntary service remain nationalised, free from the ‘corrupting’ profit motive that, they argue, ultimately removes patient care from the focus of the service.

“We are pleased it is being reported that the Blood Service looks set to remain in-house,” commented Christina McAnea, Head of Health at public sector unsion, UNISON, before cautioning, “but we understand the review is still continuing. There is still a serious threat to the service and we will continue to campaign, to lobby government ministers and the public, until they hear our concerns. “

“We want to see the Department of Health and NHS Blood and Transport bosses promise that they will not privatise any part of the service. We are yet to get that promise, despite the clear cooling of attitudes to private contracts in the NHSBT.

The Unite workers’ union also launched a media and online campaign against the potential privatisation of parts of the blood service and raised the issue with MPs who asked questions in the house. A recent independent poll of 18,000 people commissioned by Unite showed that 74 per cent opposed the privatisation of any part of the blood service. Over 50,783 people signed a petition started by Unite against privatisation.

Unite national officer, Rachael Maskell said: "This is a step in the right direction but we will continue to keep a careful watch over this very precious service. Privatisation of any part of the blood service contaminates the whole of the blood service. Our campaign struck a chord with the general public, who were outraged when they learnt that the government was prepared to even consider privatising parts of the blood service.

"It is totally wrong to allow private sector companies to profit from men and women who freely donate their blood to help others. The government got the message that the people of this country were saying no to blood money but we will remain vigilant to ensure that these proposals have not just been kicked into the long grass for the time being."