Statement from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT; 6th December 2021)

‘The Department of Health and Social Care, NHS Blood and Transplant, and NHS England and Improvement, are working together on an ambition to create a long-term domestic supply of plasma in England which can be used to manufacture immunoglobulins.

The Government had previously agreed temporary funding for plasma donation using part of the infrastructure originally established for the COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Programme. It has now agreed an approach which will deliver a sustainable plasma supply in the longer term.

In light of the important wider opportunity to develop the supply of immunoglobulins in the UK, the Government has now directed NHSBT to retain three of the centres on a permanent basis and continue to collect recovered plasma.

In the New Year, we will begin to recruit into permanent roles for the three centres, and we plan to expand the number of donors again in future years. We will also begin to recruit for permanent roles in other areas of the programme such as manufacturing. The three centres that are being retained and made permanent are Birmingham, Reading and Twickenham.

The other five plasma donation centres, Bolton, Chelmsford, Croydon, Manchester, and Stockton – will cease plasma collection and close before the end of 2021. The closures will contain costs, which will help enable the continued collection at the three retained centres. Plasma donors at centres being closed will be contacted to consider donating whole blood instead.

The Government’s decision to resize the programme to deliver it over a longer period of time, but make it permanent, means that we will move from a temporary donation programme to a position where we can transition plasma into NHSBT’s ongoing operations. We will build upon our expertise at these three centres. We plan to expand the number of donors centres again in the future. We welcome the Government’s commitment to working with NHSBT and NHS England and Improvement on developing a long-term domestic supply of immunoglobulins.

As a result of this decision there will be no impact on current supplies of immunoglobulins to NHS hospitals because hospitals will continue to use imported immunoglobulins, as they have done since 1998.’

Posted 6th December 2021