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Mr. Sackville: I have put it in another way. As I have said, if the NBA believes that it does not need processing in Liverpool, it is up to the authority to satisfy itself and us that there are no clinical dangers to patients. That is all that I can say at present. May I answer a couple of the other questions--
Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby): If the Minister is to make the final decision, whose advice does he think best--that of haematologists or that of bureaucrats on the National Blood Authority, who are consulting the haematologists in Liverpool but who appear to be in danger of taking no notice of what they are told? What advice will the Minister accept? What is the best advice?
I shall deal with one or two other matters which were raised, such as consultancy costs. The NBA has indeed used consultants because a vast organisational change is being planned, involving, for example, the bringing together of all the disparate computer systems at the
Column 1050different transfusion centres, none of which can be linked with each other. Also, many logistical changes need to be made so that the current fairly arbitrary arrangements for transfer of blood around the system in cases where there are excesses and deficits and where particular blood groups are needed are worked out very carefully. The NBA does not have that sort of expertise in-house. If one visits the headquarters of the National Blood Authority at Watford, one finds that there are very few people in that office. I am glad to say that it is a very lean organisation, which has brought in expertise. The question of consultation was also raised. I shall have to leave that matter in the form in which it was initially published. I hope that the NBA will be able to make available the maximum information.
Mr. Barry Porter: I am sorry to press the point with the Minister but I think that it is the nub of the matter. The four Wirral Members, whose intellectual capacity is clearly unparalleled, were clearly told that there would be no movement on the matter unless the medics, the professionals, agreed. Are we to understand that that was just a matter of consultation? Or were we to accept it, as I did at the time, as being a binding commitment?
Mr. Sackville: I can only say once again that it is a question of whether the case is made clinically that the closure would damage patients. That is what it is about in the end. Obviously, all the relevant advice will be taken into account. I would be very concerned if it were not.
We enormously value our voluntary donors. They are at the centre and they are what makes the blood transfusion service. Various hon. Members have mentioned that they may be alienated. They will be alienated if they are continually told, sometimes spuriously, that the blood service is being damaged by these proposals. I know well those who run the National Blood Authority. I was involved with the establishment of it. There is no way in which that authority would take actions which would damage the blood transfusion service and I would be the last person to sanction any actions which would alienate our greatly valued voluntary donors of blood in this country. Question put and agreed to.
Adjourned accordingly at two minutes past Eleven o'clock.
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