Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180 - 196)



  180. Do you not think that is a marketing gap, to use the jargon?
  (Mr Gorham) We are not in position to tell other people to tell a third party somebody's blood group outside medical treatment.

  181. If I had a rare group and I knew it ran through my family and you said, "Can you approach four members of your family, here is the pack"—
  (Mr Gorham) We would certainly provide materials to help somebody with marketing.

  182. It is the "would" rather than "do". It is whether you say, "Look, we would really like you to nominate four people we can write to".
  (Mr Gorham) We prefer people to volunteer. This may seem like a precious point, it is terribly important to us and the Service that blood donors are volunteers.

  183. I was not thinking of sending somebody around with a big needle.
  (Mr Gorham) I do not think it is appropriate for us to be saying to somebody, "You really should be recruiting for us".

  184. No, but it would be very helpful.
  (Mr Gorham) It would be very helpful and we would certainly give them opportunities to see that it would be helpful. If they showed a slight sign of volunteering we would encourage them and provide whatever help and support we can. I think it is important to understand just how important the voluntary nature of donation is in our ethics.

  185. Do you think people would be put off by such an approach from a nephew or a niece?
  (Mr Gorham) That would vary on a personal basis.

  186. How much use do you make of sports figures and role models, Spice Girls, and the like?
  (Mr Gorham) A lot. We are very lucky in the level of support that we get from celebrities and personalities from many different walks of life. That is a very important part of what we do.

  187. Do you have a policy of approaching them?
  (Mr Gorham) We will approach them, yes. If we know there is somebody who is likely to be somebody who would want to help us then we will approach them, yes.

  188. You do not mail all of the key agents and say, "Do you have people who would like to front our adverts"?
  (Mr Gorham) That is not our normal approach. We do it through the knowledge of people who are likely to be attracted to work with us and networking. My colleagues who work in that area have some very strongly developed networks.

  189. On staffing, which my colleague, Mr Love, touched on, do you have problems recruiting and retaining qualified scientists and technicians?
  (Mr Gorham) We do in some areas. The two groups of staff that we have had most difficulty in retaining are nursing staff, which is partly a general NHS problem, and scientific staff. The latter partly because salaries have not been particularly competitive. I am hopeful they will be improved.

  190. What gives you hope?
  (Mr Gorham) I understand that there is a pay offer on the table. That certainly goes some way, if it is accepted, to particularly improving starting salaries, which have been a real bone of contention.


  191. Thank you. I have one question or one point to make to you, really, on page 19, Figure 11, the map of the units of blood moved between zones in 1999. A cursory look at it shows that two-thirds of the blood in the country seems to flow from other regions into the South East and the London area. Is there a reason for that?
  (Mr Gorham) Yes, I think there is actually. It is actually easier to collect blood in rural and semi-urban areas than it is urban areas, partly because the populations are more stable. We have seen this pattern for some years.

  192. It is effectively a flow towards London.
  (Mr Gorham) It is effectively a London effect. You will see it in other western European countries as well.

  Mr Griffiths: I did read in the report that London seems to be the most generous in terms of donating. Did I pick that up correctly?


  193. Let us have a note on this.[5] It is a point of some interest. One of the other things I could not find in the report, perhaps it was my reading it, was the overall number of units provided by the consumer. I could not get a sense of what this was as a percentage of the total, as a percentage of movement.
  (Mr Gorham) We collect 2,450,000 and the report suggests that, of course, something like 88.5 per cent are consumed. Could I do the sum in my head?

  194. I will do that. This is a small fraction, anyway, 28,000.
  (Mr Gorham) They are really small movements. There are significantly more movements within the regions because our blood stock management policy does involve quite a lot of movement of stocks.

  195. It may be more likely to be a function of where the borders fall.
  (Mr Gorham) Yes.

  Chairman: Would you look at this and let us have a note on the cause of Figure 11?[6]

  Mr Williams: I note on Appendix 10 that 1.9 million was spent in 1999 on clinical negligence. While it is only one per cent that sounds like quite a high sum of money for a relatively standardised process. Could you let us have a note on how that arose, the number of cases, awards, you know, as full information as possible?


  196. One assumes that is a cash figure, not an accrued figure.
  (Mr Gorham) I think it is.

  Chairman: The impression I have got sitting here, listening to this exercise, is that one area where my impression at the beginning was there were weaknesses is the handler of the donors and my impression at the end is there is still a weakness in the handling of donors. If you want to let us know any more when you consider your evidence about this issue, it is something that the Committee will be looking at over the course of the next year or two with respect to seeing some results. Otherwise, gentlemen, thank you very much for coming. I hope you have not found your first meeting with us too difficult. Thank you very much.

5   Note: See Evidence, Appendix 1, page 19 (PAC 2000-01/79). Back

6   Note: See Evidence, Appendix 2, page 19 (PAC 2000-01/157). Back

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