New blood transfusion schemes could save NHS £40m


The UK’s blood transfusion service’s testing of new IT projects could save the NHS £40 million while also improving supplies to hospitals, the Department of Health has predicted.

The DH’s review of the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) service recommends pilot schemes to improve service in 2012, starting with an online ordering service system for hospitals.

New pilot schemes to be established in the next year will explore a potential national integrated blood stock system and automatic replenishment systems, along with integrated transfusion laboratories.

Lynda Hamlyn, Chief Executive of NHSBT, said: “We are working in partnership with trusts to identify ways we can better improve the management of blood and blood products within hospitals – so that we make best use of the voluntary donations from our 1.4 million donors.”

At least one of the new initiatives is likely to be centred around the “electronic blood transfusion service” at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. The system uses a combination of barcodes, wireless connectivity and handheld computers to improve the quality of patient care.

The system connects patients to blood products using sensors and scanners, tracking blood supplies between hospital laboratories and wards, improving transfusion accuracy and safety.

According to the DH, the service costs John Radcliffe £350k each year, but saves them £400k a year by reducing the amount of blood required, and a further £500k through less nursing time needed to handle the blood.

The DH noted that the system may not be appropriate for every NHS Trust, but it should be considered as good practice.

Hamlyn added: “We plan to pilot a number of different models in the coming year and are confident we can improve performance and deliver further efficiencies to reinvest in frontline patient care.”