HL Deb 20 April 2004 vol 660 cc28-9WA
Lord Morris of Manchester

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Secretary of State for Health's press release of 16 March on blood donations and vCJD, what specific steps the National Blood Authority will take to address the reduction now envisaged in the supply of blood available for transfusions; and what is their current assessment of the level of risk of vCJD infection to which people with haemophilia were exposed between 1980 and 1998. [HL2022]

Lord Warner

The National Blood Service (NBS) has in place an advertising and marketing plan to encourage new donors to come forward and existing donors to give blood regularly. The NBS relies on voluntary donors, and the plan aims to recruit new donors and encourage regular donation among existing donors and those who have not given for a while.

In addition, we are working with the NBS to produce a revised approach to the Health Service Circular 2002/09 Better Blood Transfusion—Appropriate Use of Blood. This is to ensure that the safe and effective use of donor blood and also alternatives to its use are fully considered.

The Department of Health commissioned Det Norske Veritas (DNV) to undertake an assessment of the risk of exposure to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease infectivity in blood and blood products. This analysis was published in 1999 and considered the potential risks posed by United Kingdom-sourced plasma products. This covered all recipients, including haemophilia patients. The risks could not be quantified, due to major uncertainties as to what infectivity plasma derivatives might carry and about the prevalence of the disease amongst UK donors. An updated risk analysis by DNV has recently been published. This is available at http://www.dnv.com/consulting/news_consulting/RiskofInfectionfromvariantCJDinBlood.asp. Copies have been placed in the Library.

As a precautionary measure plasma derivatives have been prepared from plasma imported from the United States of America. The expert Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Blood and Tissues for Transplantation will continue to keep this issue under review.

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