BAME Blood, Stem Cell and Organ Donation — [Sir Henry Bellingham in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:16 pm on 27 June 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 4:16, 27 June 2018

The NHSBT strategy has that in mind. Recently, we had a faith summit where we worked with the individuals who are able to go out and give those messages. The approach must be organic. I have also tasked NHSBT to work with me to develop an MP’s toolkit to help us to go out in our constituencies and develop the right networks and links. The hon. Lady is right to say that people from these communities will listen to their elders and other representatives, and that is why we need to work through those people. We are doing that with a number of organisations.

Turning to stem cell donation, all hon. Members articulated beautifully the real disparity of access to appropriate treatment. It is only by building and diversifying the UK stem cell register that we will be able to provide the best match for patients. Hon. Members have raised the issue of an international register; the Department funds Anthony Nolan’s efforts in this area. Members of the World Marrow Donor Association already promote global collaboration. We will continue to support that as best we can, working with Anthony Nolan and NHSBT.

NHSBT continues to grow both its cord blood banks and bone marrow donor registers, with the explicit intent of increasing the number of black and Asian donors. Overall, we have paid more than £20 million to NHSBT and Anthony Nolan specifically for stem cell donation since 2015. So far, we have made some progress in increasing donations from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, but not nearly enough to address the disparity. We will all continue to make our efforts count in that area.

I pay tribute to the initiative of the Bandhan Bedford Group that the hon. Gentleman mentioned. If there is a good local champion that captures local imagination, real progress can be made. We all need to encourage those sorts of activities.

Turning to blood, there is a real need for black donors and donors from the Asian community to increase supplies, not least because they are more likely to suffer from diseases that will require blood transfusions, specifically sickle cell anaemia. We are undertaking initiatives to increase the number of black and Asian blood donors. We are holding “know your type” events in high population areas, where people can learn their blood type with a finger prick test. That will help NHSBT to manage its blood stocks and develop a database of exactly the type of blood that there is a shortage of.

We are supporting others, such as the music of black origin awards, to reach audiences. Those who watch “Britain’s Got Talent”—I watch it—will have seen the B Positive choir, who did so much to raise awareness and who were absolutely fantastic.