Fears over relocation of blood centre

L-R: Cllr Dave Ledger, Cllr Grant Davey and Keith Merrin, Director of Woodhorn Museum
L-R: Cllr Dave Ledger, Cllr Grant Davey and Keith Merrin, Director of Woodhorn Museum

Northumberland County Council has expressed its concerns over plans to close a specialist NHS service in the North East.

In July, the NHS Blood and Transplant Board agreed to progress a proposal to reduce the number of blood manufacturing departments in the country from five to three. The facilities process blood for use in patient operations.

This would mean the closure of the Newcastle and Sheffield manufacturing departments and see the two facilities relocated in Manchester from 2017 at the earliest.

The Board believes that reducing the number of manufacturing departments will help make the best use of every voluntary donation, maximise the use of equipment and enable flexibly to respond quickly to changes in volume and component specification.

However, at a meeting of the full council, members unanimously passed a motion expressing concern that this could potentially put around 38 jobs in Newcastle and 60 in Sheffield at risk.

Leader of the council, Grant Davey, who put forward the motion, said it was not just the jobs that were a concern, but the high proportion of people in the county with the B blood group.

He also raised the issue about a single location in Manchester being a base to cover the whole of the North West, North East and Yorkshire regions, because of the large geographical area, the potential for traffic disruption and a lack of clarity around how the operation of the service under these proposals would cope with a major incident.

Coun Davey added: “If anything were to happen to me and I was taken to hospital and needed blood to save my life, I’d be concerned if it had to come all the way from Manchester.”

Councillors called for more work to be done before these proposals are put in place, with scrutiny needed to ensure any changes are both workable and effective.

A copy of the motion will now be forwarded to all North East MPs, the Secretary of State for Health, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health and the chairman of the Health Select Committee, with a request for consultation with local health stakeholders.