Blood plasma, privatisation and falling vCJD

The government have announced they will sell 80% of the firm, Plasma Resources UK (PRUK). This firm manages the supply of blood plasma to the NHS, a product that cannot be derived from UK blood donations because of the risk of transmitting vCJD – a disease almost entirely exclusive to the UK, or to people who have lived in the UK.

This has led to some ill-advised headlines claiming the blood donor service will be privatised, criticised rightly by Anthony Cox, that has necessitated a hasty statement from the NHS Blood & Transfusion (NHSBT) service to avoid the risk of a decline in donations.

While it is understandable that those opposed to privatisation would want to protest this, no action seems more spiteful than depriving innocent people of a vital resource, especially as the result of misinformation.

However, although PRUK’s function is to source plasma from outside the UK, this is unlikely always to be so.

Rates of vCJD peaked in 2,000 and the last few years have recorded 0 new cases.

This means, assuming no new cases are recorded, at some point a decision will be made that it is safe to start using plasma from blood donated in the UK.

WIll PRUK, a now privatised firm, then be running part of the UK’s blood donor system?

This will then legitimatise concerns about privatisation of parts of the blood donor service.

I have asked both the Department of Health and NHSBT this question.

NHSBT answered promptly to state that they cannot answer this question as they cannot predict when UK blood plasma might be considered safe.

I am still waiting on a response from the Department of Health.

While I do, you may wish to give blood, especially as I have been unable to do so for some time.


One thought on “Blood plasma, privatisation and falling vCJD

  1. Anthony Cox

    Interesting question. As the government remains a 20% stakeholder in PRUK, I see no reason why the government can’t commission the PRUK to do a “at cost” job on future UK plasma products if the decision is ever made that the BSE risk has abated to that level.


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