Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Save Our Blood Services

This is from the latest Health Campaigners Mailing from Keep Our NHS Public -

Save Our Blood Services

The National Blood Service (NBS) is currently engaged in a hotly disputed strategy of reconfiguration. Directors plan to close blood processing and testing labs at 10 local centres in favour of just three supercentres in Bristol, Manchester and Colindale (London). Hundreds of technical staff - about half the laboratory workforce - face redundancy.

Save Our Blood Services campaign group, based in Birmingham, is defending the NBS staff from the proposed cuts, and vociferously arguing that the strategy will lead to a dangerously reduced service.An ageing population means that transplants and the need for specialised blood products for chronic patients will rise. While staff could be trained in readiness for these new challenges their skills acquired over years, even decades, of service will be wasted, Save Our Blood Services argues.

NBS management justifies the reconfiguration strategy as a necessary means of making savings. The costs of blood products are on the increase, and the NBS is unwilling to charge hospitals more. (Unsurprisingly, they will not disclose how much taxpayers' money the NBS spends on external management consultancy agencies.) Short-sighted cost-cutting is the primary concern, it seems, rather than patients, hospitals, or the skilled and loyal workforce. The Financial Times was told about the strategy before staff were informed.

The official line is that services which need to be close to hospitals will stay there, like the issue blood banks. Staff believe otherwise. A patient died recently waiting to be rushed a 'washed' platelet from the local centre. 'Washing' is done by the processing lab - which is being centralised. Road congestion could add to delays to the smooth flow of products around the country in similar cases. There will be no northern centre east of the Pennines, and no centre for the west Midlands, so the unhindered movement of the blood products from the supercentres will be vital. Meanwhile, police figures back up staff concerns about jams on long south-west transport routes.

Managers claim that most of the job losses will be through natural wastage. However, with redundancy for existing staff who are unable to relocate to the new supercentres, and with the new centres to be run on harsh 24 hour shifts to cope with the massive blood requirements of the UK's health service, the working conditions of the reconfigured NBS are clearly being negatively affected.

Unsurprisingly no staff input to these plans has been accepted and industrial action is just around the corner. Neither has there been any consultation with the public despite blood being donated both by and for members of the public.

Staff are speaking to donors, patients and the public on campaign street stalls to tell them what the reconfiguration agenda really means. Leafleting, petitioning and demonstrations are getting the message out and making sure the NBS directors can't put their plans into operation without a fight. The more media attention and sustained angry pressure from the NBS workers' supporters the better. Morale is low but solidarity can help the staff carry on the struggle.

You can help the cause by writing letters to both local and national newspapers and to the NBS chief executive:

Martin Gorham
Chief Executive
National Blood Service
Oak House
Read's Crescent
WD24 4PH

The IWW has members in the National Blood Service who are very active in the campaign, here is their page on the dispute.

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At 10:15 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The link to the IWW page isn't working.

At 9:12 pm, Blogger greenman said...

Thanks, anon - hopefully the link is now working.

At 5:17 pm, Blogger NBS SOS said...

Hi greenman
Massive thanks for mentioning + linking to the Blood Service campaign on your page.
Please drop us a line to the email address (on the blog), as a) you are local, so we maybe know each other...? + b) you are a Wobbly, + if we don't know each other, we should ASAP...


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