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Anorak | Nobody’s stockpiling blood because of Brexit

Nobody’s stockpiling blood because of Brexit

by | 30th, July 2018

It’s certainly true that there could be problems flowing from Brexit. If we crash out without a deal then we can all imagine more than just the one cockup or traffic jam until people come to their senses. But despite what the papers – and the Health Secretary – are saying it’s really very unlikely indeed that we’re going to stockpile blood:

Any wise government has to plan for outcomes it would not have chosen to happen. And so it is with Brexit. The health minister Matt Hancock has revealed that the NHS is stockpiling medicines and blood supplies in the case of disruption should there be no agreement over the terms under which the UK leaves the EU next year.

The basic idea is entirely sensible. Sure, plan for disasters that might not happen. But blood?

The government is making plans to stockpile vital blood products and medicines in case of a no-deal Brexit, the new health secretary has said.

Matthew Hancock admitted he had already met with industry leaders to discuss building up NHS reserves of vaccinations and other medical supplies if Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal.

Well, no, not really. Despite half the press delighting in being able to report something so gory, even sanguinary:

“We are working right across government to ensure that the health sector and the industry are prepared and that people’s health will be safeguarded in the event of a no-deal Brexit,” he told MPs on Tuesday.

“This includes the chain of medical supplies, vaccines, medical devices, clinical consumables, and blood products.

“And I have asked the department to work up options for stockpiling by industry.”

There’s good reason to be suspicious concerning blood and blood products though, even if that basic idea is sound.

The thing is, the UK is pretty much self-sufficient in blood. That system of voluntary donations of blood works pretty well, we extract enough from Brits to pump into Brits. Where the donation system doesn’t work is with blood products – by far the most important of which is plasma. Voluntary donation systems just don’t produce enough of this. Not enough people are willing to take the time to donate it for the demand. This then affects such things as Factor VIII for haemophiliacs and so on.

And the thing is that no voluntary system anywhere extracts enough of these. Meaning that the UK – and largely so European – system which bans payments for body products means that we’ve not got enough. Everyone therefore relies, for plasma and the like, on the American system of paid donations.

Which is why there’s good reason to be suspicious of the claims of stockpiling blood – which we produce domestically – and blood products. For we get the blood products from outside the EU right now, something that won’t be affected by Brexit.

Sure, nice story, but not a great deal of truth behind it.



Posted: 30th, July 2018 | In: News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink