By Max Clarke
"Whether it is the frontline or the back office, privatisation of any part of the blood service contaminates the whole of the blood service," is the resolute message being delivered to Linda Hamlyn, chief executive of the NHS blood service, following a poll of some 18,000 members of the unite union.
The Department of Health is currently leading a review into ways the NHS Blood Service could cut costs. As part of the review the Department of Health is talking to private providers. Currently both the National Blood Service and the Department of Health have failed to rule-out privatisation of parts of the blood service despite massive public opposition.
On 16 February the Health Service Journal learned that the Department of Health's commercial directorate held talks with private providers about running parts of the NHS Blood and Transplant service. Capita and DHL are understood to be interested in taking over parts of the 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 message is clear, the people of this country say no to blood money," commented the union’s national officer, Jennie Bremner.
Unions claim the service is well run, and that improved efficiencies would not be delivered following privatisation. The blood service’s 2010 annual report showed the service “met more than 99.9 per cent of all product requests” and it has “implemented efficiencies which helped to reduce the cost of a unit of red cells from £140 to £130” —a fall in cost of over 7 per cent.