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Statement: Department of Health publishes outcome of Commercial Review of NHSBT

18 October 2011

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) welcomes the findings of the Department of Health’s review of its commercial effectiveness and support for its plans to improve its efficiency and effectiveness and deliver further savings to the NHS as an arm’s-length body.

Bill Fullagar, NHSBT Chairman, said: 'Publication of the Commercial Review brings to an end the uncertainty for our donors and stakeholders brought on by speculation about the possible outcomes of the review. The NHSBT Board will continue to oversee the drive for efficiency whilst never compromising our life saving work.'

The Commercial Review, published on 18th October 2011, was set up to consider if there may be opportunities for more cost effective operations and commercial arrangement such as contracting out some discrete functions, provided there was no conflict with the public health considerations. This was a recommendation of the Arm’s-Length Bodies review – Liberating the NHS: Report of the arm’s-length bodies review – published in July 2010 by the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley.

The ALB Review report confirmed NHSBT as an ALB because ‘moving to a different delivery model would risk destabilising the current national donor system’. There were no proposals to privatise the blood service.

Commenting on the Commercial Review, Lynda Hamlyn, NHSBT Chief Executive said:

'This review provided an opportunity to rigorously test our strategy and plans. 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 greatly value the support shown during this review by our donors, our customers and others who have an interest in our work. These expressions of how much our role is appreciated inspire us to continue to do the best we can to help save and improve the lives of patients through the products and services we provide.'

The review particularly highlights:

  • the importance of our work on developing an integrated transfusion service which will help improve our service to the patient.
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  • how NHSBT has worked with hospitals to encourage the appropriate use of blood for transfusions and continues to work towards further improvements.
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  • The significant improvements NHSBT has made to productivity which has allowed us to reduce the price of blood resulting in £30 million in annual savings to the NHS.

NHSBT is committed to continuing to work efficiently and effectively, managing the national voluntary donation system for blood, tissues, organs and stem cells turning these precious donations into products that can be used safely to the benefit of the patients we serve. More detail is set out in our Strategic Plan 2011-14 which was published in April.

Department of Health statement