Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/466/1847
Blood service staff prepared to fight job losses
LAST WEEK the National Health Service Blood and Transplant authority (NHSBT) announced their new service strategy which will affect mainly the National Blood Service (NBS). It will see the closure of eight blood testing and processing facilities and three supplemental centres in England. This will mean the loss of 600 full-time posts.
Carly (Amicus) and Gary (UNISON), Sheffield NHSBT.
But the 600 doesn't take into account the job losses through staff being unable to relocate. In reality around 1,500 posts could be affected. The bulk of these are technical and scientific. They cannot just be recruited or relocated to different parts of the country.
Currently blood donations are collected and transported to one of the eleven local centres. There, the blood is microbiology tested, grouped and processed into different therapeutic blood components like red blood cells, plasma or platelets. This is all done before being sent out to hospitals around the country.
Under new plans, blood will be taken to one of three new 'super-centres' in Bristol, London and Manchester. If this plan goes ahead it will be a logistical nightmare. The whole of the North-East and East Midlands will have no testing and processing facilities.
Joint trade union secretary Bill Cambell said: "These cuts will leave massive holes in the coverage of processing centres. Depending on just three centres will also put patients' lives in jeopardy in the event of an emergency."
During the announcement, NBS spokespeople were asked about blood collected from Newcastle and the far north Scottish borders getting to Manchester, remembering that in winter there is only one feasible route, the M62.
The answer was: "The NBS has a fantastic local infrastructure to deal with any logistical changes and so such concerns will not be a problem".
But with only three centres in England and only one of those in the north, "local infrastructure" becomes "national infrastructure".
These proposals are being pushed through without consultation. They look as if they've been drawn upon the back of a cigarette packet in a pub with no thought to the practicalities and their consequences. They will put unnecessary pressure on the service, putting patients at risk.
This announcement is only the beginning, with other services the NBS provides to hospitals under threat.
In a recent Amicus indicative ballot, 81% of members voted in favour of industrial action, with the possibility of a strike over Christmas.
Centres are also working together to fight back against these ludicrous plans by setting up local protests and activities (we started petitioning and leafleting in Sheffield on Saturday) including 'imaginative' suggestions such as urinal stickers which have photos of the members of the board.
NBS workers are not happy and are ready to unite and fight back.
In The Socialist 7 December 2006:
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