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Helping NHS Blood and Transplant make the blood donor selection criteria more personalised

The UK blood services have been asked by ministers to look at whether a more individualised donor selection criteria is possible.

The selection criteria questions are an important safety measure for blood donation, which ask about lifestyle, health and travel.

Currently, there is a 3-month deferral in place for groups at higher risk of infection such as men who have sex with men, people with higher risk partners, and people who are paid for sex.

A more individualised selection criteria would mean that instead of applying a blanket deferral to such groups, individuals at lower risk of infection within these groups would be allowed to donate blood.

How the surveys will help

We are starting this work with two surveys that have been trialled in Canada. Some donors will either get a survey asking about their recent sexual behaviours or a survey asking how comfortable they would be answering questions about certain sexual behaviours prior to donation.

The results from these surveys will help us better understand the behaviour of current donors and the acceptability of certain questions among current donors. This information will help inform the next steps of the work looking at a more individualised risk assessment, and allow comparison with international work in Canada where similar surveys have already been carried out.

It should be noted that these surveys are a preliminary stage in a much larger stream of work and that the questions asked may or may not reflect what the final individualised selection criteria would look like, if one is possible. At the end of the survey, all respondents will have a chance to freely provide any comments on the questions asked within it.

How the surveys are run

The surveys are being carried out by Public Health England (PHE) on behalf of NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).

NHSBT will invite a random sample of blood donors to participate in either survey 1 or survey 2 via email. This will be followed by two reminder emails. The reminder emails will go to all those who received the initial invite as, because it is completely anonymous, NHSBT has no way of knowing who has or has not completed the survey. All those who have already completed the survey should ignore these reminders. The emails will contain a link to a secure online survey hosted by PHE.

PHE is conducting the surveys anonymously and confidentially, and respondents' answers cannot be linked in any way to their blood donor record or any other health record.

How Public Health England will use the information

PHE has not been given any personal details and will not ask for them. PHE will not know the respondent’s identity or anything about them other than the information given in the survey.

The information provided will not be shared on an individual level and so NHSBT will not know what answers an individual has given in the survey.

We will not collect personal identifiable information, and the data we do collect will be retained only as long as it can be useful to inform policy.

Contact

If you have any queries about the survey itself please contact us at: donorsurvey@phe.gov.uk

For further information on how your information is used by PHE, how we maintain the security of your information, and your rights to access the information we hold on you please contact: Alex.Sienkiewicz@phe.gov.uk