Statement: False online and social media rumours suggesting NHS Blood and Transplant was privatised

19 July 2013

This page was updated September 2019

Is blood donation in England privatised?

No. Blood donation is not privatised. Blood donation in England is run by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).

A number of news stories have circulated over the years about privatisation. The stories refer to the sale of a UK firm, PRUK, which worked with plasma products and was part-sold to an American company. PRUK did not collect blood donations.

NHSBT is a special health authority reporting into the Department of Health and Social Care.

What was PRUK?

PRUK was a Government-owned holding company which imported blood plasma from the USA to manufacture fractionated plasma products for NHS-use.

Imported plasma was used for some fractionated plasma products because of the risk of vCJD. PRUK did not collect blood donations.

In 2013, the Government announced it planned to sell the majority or all of the shares in PRUK, an American company, which led to misleading news headlines.

Does NHSBT get money from blood donations?

All NHS organisations recover costs from each other for the services they provide to each other. For example, an NHS hospital trust carrying out an operation would recover the costs from the patient’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Group at a nationally agreed rate.

In NHSBT’s case, hospitals give NHSBT money for each unit of blood they receive. This money covers NHSBT’s costs.

Does NHSBT still import plasma?

NHS Blood and Transplant has stocks of plasma from Austria and Poland for the treatment of patients born on or after 01/01/96. NHSBT is in the process of moving to using plasma from UK donors and expects that to be complete by the end of 2020. This plasma is not the same as the fractionated plasma products manufactured by PRUK.

  • This statement was updated in September 2019