Privatising parts of the National Blood Service could put people off donating as they would see companies profiting from their generosity, an MP said today.
Labour’s Jim Dobbin (Heywood and Middleton) said plans to outsource transportation of blood to companies such as DHL and TNT would compromise the service.
In New Zealand, the number of donations had decreased as a result of privatising its blood service, he said, while hospital infections jumped in the UK when cleaning contracts were outsourced.
There was also a question mark over whether private companies would be given the right to transport blood in cars using sirens and blue lights.
The service, which takes two million units of blood a year from 1.4 million donors, has already saved by £3m with the unit cost of blood falling from £140 in 2008-09 to £125 this financial year.
A review into avenues for further savings is about to be published and is expected to recommend that at least some services are offered to private companies.
During a debate in Westminster Hall today, health minister Anne Milton insisted medical staff who take blood from the public will continue to work in the public sector.
But Mr Dobbin said there was still a danger people would be put off giving blood if “private companies were allowed to cash in on lucrative government contracts”.
He called on ministers to think again about the plans, adding blood donation was the perfect example of the Big Society in action.
Mr Dobbin said: “In my view privatisation would introduce an element of cost-cutting in order to increase profits. Short-cuts, reduced training and quality reduction would be a strong possibility.
“All I would say really is that the public who donate their services free will be discouraged from taking part if the profit motive is introduced.
“The demand for blood from those who have serious health conditions would not diminish, however the supply of donors is in danger of reduction.”