Blood donors may be concerned by articles they are reading in the media regarding the sale of a government owned company called Plasma Resources UK Limited (PRUK) and be under the impression that NHS Blood and Transplant sells blood collected by volunteer donors for a profit. This is not the case.
NHS Blood and Transplant collects blood from donors in England and North Wales and, after processing and testing, supplies the components (red cells, platelets and frozen products) to hospitals in these areas. We supply blood components on a not-for-profit basis by setting prices that recovers our costs only. Due to safety concerns regarding vCJD NHS Blood and Transplant is unable to use the plasma from blood collected in the UK, except in very limited circumstances, and the plasma is therefore incinerated.
PRUK consists of two companies, the Bio Products Laboratory (BPL) at Elstree in the UK and DCI in the USA. DCI collects plasma from donors in the USA which, unlike plasma from the UK, is deemed safe from vCJD. A significant proportion of this plasma supply is then sent to BPL where it is fractionated into blood proteins such as immunoglobulins, clotting factors and albumin for supply to NHS hospitals, as well as other health services across the world. The Department of Health announced earlier this year that it was seeking private sector investment in PRUK through the sale of the majority or all of the shares in the company. According to reports in the media, Bain Capital has agreed to buy an 80% stake in PRUK.
We would therefore like to reiterate that PRUK is a separate business, owned by the government, and is not part of NHS Blood and Transplant. Neither the blood from our donors, nor the resulting blood components, are supplied to PRUK.
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter has made the following statement about the sale of Plasma Resource UK:
"It is important to be clear about the Government's plans to sell all, or part, of the state-owned plasma company PRUK. This company is completely separate to NHS Blood and Transplant and plays no role in blood donations or organ supply - there is no intention to sell NHS Blood and Transplant. Ministers have made clear the huge debt of gratitude owed to all those who freely donate blood to the NHS.
"UK blood donations are not used to make PRUK products. Ever since the emergence of vCJD ("mad cow disease") the medical advice is not to use UK blood in manufacturing for plasma products. PRUK is already a commercial business and the majority of its staff already work in the private sector. We are taking this action to secure a viable future for the company and its employees in the long term and to ensure that patients will continue to have access to high quality medical products."