Lower price for donated blood saves NHS hospitals £50m

Blood bag Around 2m units of blood were donated last year.

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NHS hospitals in England and North Wales are saving millions of pounds because the price charged for donated blood has gone down.

The organisation which collects, processes, tests and distributes blood says it has been able to pass on efficiency savings to the NHS.

The price of a quarter of a litre of blood has gone down from £140 to £125.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) says that equates to savings of around £50m over two years.

Start Quote

We are proud of our record in reducing the price to hospitals”

End Quote Rob Bradburn NHSBT finance director

NHSBT has 1.4m registered donors, who gave almost 2m units of blood last year.

Its annual review shows the price of a unit of blood dropped for the first time in 2009.

Hospitals place orders for different types of blood with NHSBT.

Its job is to supply the right amount without wasting any surplus stock, so blood donors who are able to attend regularly are vital for the service's work.

Controversial reorganisation

NHSBT has been able to reduce the price it charges hospitals after a controversial reorganisation.

It has halved the number of testing centres to five - and reduced the number of processing centres from 11 to six. One of the remaining processing centres at Brentwood in Essex is due to close early next year.

Two hundred jobs have been lost in the past 18 months - but managers say their systems for processing blood products are now quicker and more effective.

In the annual review, its finance director, Rob Bradburn, said: "We are proud of our record in reducing the price of red cells to hospitals over the last two years and of our contribution to maximising the funds available for the treatment of patients at the front line."

Surgeons are also credited with helping achieve a more efficient use of limited blood supplies.

An initiative by the Department of Health has led to an increasing amount of "bloodless surgery" - in contrast with operations when units of blood would be ordered as a precaution.

The guidelines were aimed at avoiding unnecessary blood transfusions.

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