This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Blood money

Many people donate blood the National Blood Service. I have done so for many years because I want to help people get the health care they need. In a not dissimilar way, I am also happy to pay my taxes into our NHS as a whole. I want to live in a society where everyone get the healthcare they need, regardless of their ability to pay (which can be a factor in many other parts of the world).

I have found out through an Freedom of Information inquiry that the NBS charges all its 'customers' a cost per unit of blood. This then goes into offsetting the costs of all the staff, refrigeration, squash & crisps (etc.) they need to run the service.

That seems reasonable, does it not? Well.... I am not so sure.

The Government have instituted a commercialised NHS where 'any qualified provider' can bid to run public health care services. We also already have many private patients and private hospitals working alongside the NHS where those who can pay get speedier and more comfortable healthcare (private rooms, better food etc.) I would like to think those private patients get no better health care though...

So we have a parallel sector, set to grow, of organisations that are there to make a profit, paid for by people who want health care beyond that provided by the NHS.

All hospitals have to buy items to help them run. These items range from food, to crutches, to bandages etc. And all hospitals buy these items from companies who decide what a commercial rate is so that they make a profit and continue in business. Again, all seems fine. Of course companies should charge a market rate for their products and services...

But now it gets sticky (a bit like the blood). Thousands of people donate their blood for free into the NHS. But the NBS sells this blood onto private health care providers. They charge the same unit cost price to these private healthcare providers as they charge NHS hospitals. Putting to one side the fact that this blood has been given freely to support free health care, it does mean that the private healthcare providers are effectively getting a huge discount off the market rate.


Why do the private hospitals not either arrange their own blood supply service or pay the full market rate for the blood that they get? Effectively our free blood and taxes which support the NBS are helping these private health care providers make greater profits. Taxpayers are subsidising profit making businesses.

Is that right? 

Now I really (really) wish, health services didn't have to be increasingly commercialised but that seems to be the trend. So let's get fully blooming commercial about this and make sure the private hospitals and healthcare providers are paying the full commercial rate for their units of blood they use. If the NBS then turns in a surplus, that is good! That 'profit' can help them charge NHS hospitals even less for their units of blood and make public finances (our taxes) go even further.

(There is a link here to policing and privatisation, but I will leave that for another blog post: this one is long enough already.)


  1. Anonymous31/7/13 17:13

    always wondered if my blood was sold. great article.

  2. Chris Redmond5/9/15 15:08

    I've always suspected that blood donated for the NHS was finding it's way into private hospitals but could never find any info online.

    Very happy to finally find this blog then and discover what actually happens to our donated blood, and it stinks to high Heaven.

    Perhaps there's a fear that if private health organisations started offering to pay money to donors, in would tempt those who currently give blood for free away from the NBS and lead to a shortage.
    This obviously wouldn't be the case however as if private health organisations didn't have to buy their blood from the NBS, it would leave more for the NHS, and in fact there could even be a surplus as a cash incentive could attract donors who wouldn't otherwise have donated.