Four hundred staff are set to be cut following the closure of three of the country's 10 blood centres and the sale of the only government-owned bio products laboratory.

Four hundred staff are set to be cut following the closure of three of the country's 10 blood centres and the sale of the only government-owned bio products laboratory.

The job losses are part of a series of rationalisation measures at NHS Blood and Transplant which will also see trusts having to pay more for certain bio products such as immunoglobin.

The blood service's production centres will bear the brunt of the job losses - 300 - while around 100 are set to go at the bio products laboratory.

NHSBT is divided into three organisations, the National Blood Service, UK Transplant, and the bio products laboratory.

The 300 blood job losses are made up of 100 already announced after the closure of three production centres in Southampton, Bristol and Plymouth and centralisation at a new site in Bristol, and around 200 expected to have to be made elsewhere.

NHSBT chair Bill Fullagar said a review of the seven other production centres throughout the country would lead to closures and job cuts 'of a similar order', which he said would equate to around 200 losses. The 30 blood job losses would represent nearly a quarter of the 1.300 people employed at the production centres.

'We expect to work towards a network of fewer, larger production sites more able to meet the service's needs, supporting them with a network of local centres from which the blood is issued to local hospitals,' he said.

The changes are needed because demand for blood has gone down and many of its centres are unsuitable for modern production processes.

In addition, the National Blood Service has given a pledge to freeze the price of blood to trusts for the next year.

Meanwhile, the number of donors is falling so the service will also review its blood collection organisation to make it more convenient to donors.

The Department of Health has told the organisation that it plans to end central funding for its bio products laboratory. In response, there will be more than 100 job losses and the lab will raise its prices for some of its products.

However a wider review is under way because the lab is too small to operate in the international market. Options include joint ventures with third parties or a sale to a private company.

Mr Fullagar said: 'The bio products laboratory is too small: other people who provide the same products are international companies. We have 1 per cent of world business while others have 10 per cent.'

'Failure to succeed in our present endeavours could lead to closure, since the products which the bio products laboratory provides are all available from other suppliers.'

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