Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has called for a statement from the Health Minister on concerns about the Welsh Blood Service buying blood supplies from elsewhere.
The Welsh Government has again defended the Welsh Blood Service for spending almost half a million pounds buying blood supplies from other UK services.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams called for a statement from the Health Minister to 'explain why this situation has happened' and to give assurances to Assembly Members that the it was under control.
However Business Minister Lesley Griffiths refused to commit to a statement saying that the Blood Service had reached a temporary agreement to import blood in order to cope with 'a change management programme.'
The Presiding Officer has refused a bid by Welsh Liberal Democrat leader to question the Health Minister on concerns about the Welsh Blood Service. Kirsty Williams had tabled an Urgent Question following revelations by ITV Cymru Wales about sharp increases in bought-in blood supplies.
The Lib Dem leader is expected to call for a statement from the minister during this afternoon's Business Question session in the Senedd.
The Welsh Blood Service needs to concentrate more on working with communities rather than buying in blood supplies, according to Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies. He was commenting on revelations that collection changes have led to falling donations in the Welsh Blood Service area.
Mr Davies said 'the service needs to recognise it's got to work with communities rather than buying blood in' from elsewhere.
Plaid Cymru's Rhodri Glyn Thomas says it's 'ludicrous' for the Welsh Blood Service to be buying in supplies at a time of financial pressure in the NHS. He was commenting on revelations that the service has spent nearly half a million pounds on supplies from outside its area.
The Welsh Blood Service has spent close to £500,000 over the last six months buying in blood from other services. That's more than it spent on importing stocks in the entire previous 12 months according to the figures obtained by ITV Cymru Wales under the Freedom Of Information Act.
The Welsh Blood Service says the increase was expected and due to the effects of training staff for a reorganisation of services. Others though say the service is failing to collect enough blood because the changes are putting off potential donors. Our Political Editor Adrian Masters reports.
– Welsh Government spokesperson
We are aware that the WBS has undertaken a change management programme which has included a training programme for staff and temporary agreement to import extra blood from outside the WBS. Safety and continuity have been the priority throughout and we are assured budgets are being adhered to.
The Welsh Blood has issued this further statement in response to concerns raised over its increased spending on buying in blood from other services:
The Welsh Blood Service (WBS) has undergone a significant modernisation of the blood collection process.
In planning these service delivery improvements it was recognised that staff would need to go through a complex training programme that would impact on blood collections.
The training programme for staff is complex and requires a controlled and extended period of time in order for staff to consolidate their new skills. This ensures that the quality or safety of the service is not compromised. As such, during this period fewer donations were collected.
– Welsh Blood Service
Whilst this has presented challenges to the Welsh Blood Service we are extremely appreciative of the continued support of our donors during this time.
To support these changes the WBS recognised that it would need to import additional blood from the other UK Blood Services and had agreed this support beforehand in order to continue to meet clinical demand.
The training programme is nearing completion and currently, blood stocks are stabilising with additional clinics being planned to support a stock build over the Christmas period.
The Welsh Health Minister could be forced to answer questions in the Assembly chamber about a seven-fold increase in the amount of blood bought in by the Welsh Blood Service if a bid for an urgent question is accepted. It's been tabled by the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams:
– Kirsty Williams AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader
The figures uncovered by ITV Wales about the availability of blood for transfusion is shocking. The sharp decline over the past three years in the number of blood units being donated is cause for concern.
The significant increase in the cost of importing blood to the Welsh NHS is even more alarming given the strain the Welsh NHS budget is under. I have tabled an urgent question in the Assembly so that the Health Minister can answer questions about how we can increase the number of Welsh donors and reduce the cost of importing blood.
The Presiding Officer will decide tomorrow whether or not to allow the Urgent Question.
The Welsh Conservatives' Shadow Health Minister says the fall in blood collection by the Welsh Blood Service is another example of problems caused by underfunding of the NHS.
– Darren Millar AM, Shadow Health MInister
The Welsh Labour Government is ultimately responsible for the management of the NHS and that includes the Welsh Blood Service.
There is an old adage in life which says - ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ - yet here we see another example of Welsh Labour’s record breaking NHS cuts forcing unpopular changes in services and costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds more than predicted.
These shocking figures are yet further evidence of our NHS in chaos under Welsh Labour.