IBTS launches 2006 Annual Report

Slight decrease in donations in 2006 IBTS commences major change programme 

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service launched its 2006 Annual Report today (Thursday) at the National Blood Centre,Dublin. IBTS Chief Executive Andy Kelly outlined details of a major change programme in the organisation that is well underway. The comprehensive change programme which the IBTS has embarked on will address many of the issues frequently raised by donors. 

Phase one of the Donation Process Review has been completed and phase two will commence in 2008. This will deliver tangible benefits to donors at clinics, reducing waiting times and improving the donation experience. The IBTS is also conducting a thorough review of how the laboratory function is organised especially the processing laboratories, with the aim of streamlining many laboratory processes, increasing efficiencies and improving the service available to hospitals.

The introduction of new technologies such as ORBISAC for the robotic manufacture of platelets is just one example of the kind of change that the IBTS is implementing. This technology was evaluated and in place by the end of 2006, producing extremely high quality platelets of a consistent standard.

He added that the priority of the IBTS was the continuous supply of safe blood and blood products to patients in Irish hospitals. In 2006, donations decreased by 3,178 or 2.05%.  The amount of blood issued was correspondingly less, at 138,540 units.  While maintaining the blood supply proved a challenge as always, the IBTS did not have to make a nationwide appeal in 2006.   

National Medical Director, Doctor William Murphy added: In 2006, the IBTS continued to develop and introduce techniques to increase our capacity to detect or eradicate infections in blood transfusions. 

An automated technique for single donor NAT testing, the most sensitive approach there is for detecting viruses in the blood of donors underwent extensive evaluation at the IBTS.  This technology is the most sensitive method for detecting HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B Virus in blood donors, it has the additional advantage of being rapidly adaptable to detect new infections that emerge in the future, well in advance of older antibody based technologies, said Dr Murphy.

Chairperson Maura McGrath thanked donors for continuing to give of their time to support patients in need.  Donors save lives. Their voluntary contribution is fundamental and must not be taken for granted.  Their unique generosity is acknowledged and appreciated 

In 2006, the IBTS initiated a programme of significant change. This programme is designed to meet the objectives of the IBTS Strategic Plan over the coming years, ensuring the development of our services for the benefit of donors and patients, said Ms McGrath.