Plans to close the North East’s single blood manufacturing and processing department risk the region becoming unable to cater for its own health needs, according to Alex Cunningham, and will jeopardise the survival and recovery rates of patients.
The Stockton North MP was alarmed to learn that NHS Blood and Transplant intends to close the Blood Process and Manufacturing Department in Newcastle, along with a corresponding site in Sheffield. The plans will see blood manufacturing and processing centralised in Manchester by 2017, signalling the demise of vital services east of the Pennines from London to Edinburgh.
The latest in a raft of departmental closures to centre on Newcastle as a direct result of the Government forcing the NHS to make savage cuts in budgets will result in the manufacturing of blood products becoming highly restricted geographically. And the Labour Member of Parliament is worried there will be ramifications for the wider North East.
“My chief concern is that, following this closure, the manufacturing of blood products will be concentrated in areas that do not best serve hospitals in the North East. I fear this will produce knock-on consequences for hospitals across the region and will prove to be damaging to public health.
“It is my understanding that, should these plans come to fruition, our hospitals will be forced to rely on products from holding units which may have been manufactured and transported several days previously. As things stand currently, facilities across the region are able to access freshly manufactured products which can aid the survival and recovery of patients.
“Being compelled to rely on suboptimal provisions is a cause of considerable unease. Closure of the Newcastle site will harm the ability of our region to cater for its own healthcare needs and increase our vulnerability to external factors in the availability of vital blood products.
“I have written to the Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transplant to raise my concerns with him directly and seek further information on the planned changes. I hope to have a fuller picture in the coming weeks and to engage constructively with the organisation to ensure that service standards are maintained across the North East.”