Blood: Contamination

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 13th May 2019.

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Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what new medical checks his Department has put in place to ensure that no NHS blood supplies are contaminated.

Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The National Health Service blood supply chain has rigorous safety standards making the United Kingdom blood supply one of the safest in the world. Every donor completes an extensive donor health check questionnaire before each donation. This is designed to identify donors who have a recognisable risk of infection who can then be excluded or subject to further testing. Those considered at risk are asked to defer donation until it is safe for them to do so.

All blood donations are routinely tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis E, HIV, syphilis and for first time donors, human T-lymphotropic virus, before they are sent to hospitals and released into the supply chain. If any blood donation tests positive for infection it is not released into the blood supply chain.

NHS Blood and Transplant and the other UK blood services are subject to regular inspections by independent regulators and NHS Blood and Transplant safety policy is formulated by two independent advisory committees; the Joint United Kingdom Blood Transfusion Services Professional Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs. NHS Blood and Transplant, along with the other UK Blood Services, established a UK blood supply surveillance scheme where all hospitals in the UK report, as a condition of their registration, any recognised or unexpected reactions to blood products. This allows constant vigilance to any possible threat to the safety of the blood supply.

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