Almost 50 jobs to go as Sheffield NHS blood unit’s closure confirmed

NHS Blood and Transplant Service, Longley Lane, Sheffield may be shutting down and being relocated to Manchester putting jobs at risk. Picture: Andrew Roe
NHS Blood and Transplant Service, Longley Lane, Sheffield may be shutting down and being relocated to Manchester putting jobs at risk. Picture: Andrew Roe
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Around 45 people are to lose their jobs as the closure of a specialist NHS service in Sheffield that processes blood for use in patient operations was confirmed.

The NHS Blood and Transplant board of director have now agreed plans to shut the blood supply chain manufacturing facility on Longley Lane, close to the Northern General Hospital.

Manufacturing services currently based in Sheffield and Newcastle are being transferred to Manchester.

The plans follow the amount charged to hospitals for blood being reduced to save the NHS £3m per year.

The two sites are not expected to shut until 2017 ‘at the earliest’.

Fears had been raised by Unison that moving services to Manchester could put patients ‘at risk’ with the possibility of bad weather or heavy traffic affecting transport times across the Pennines.

But the NHS has said safety and continuity of blood supply is a ‘top priority’.

A spokesperson said: “The logistical implications of transferring our manufacturing activity from Newcastle and Sheffield to Manchester have been fully considered.

“We are confident we will be able to maintain the supply of blood and blood components to hospitals in all circumstances, including poor weather conditions and traffic congestion.

“Our experience with the transportation of testing samples and supplying other remote parts of the country supports this.”

The spokesperson for NHS Blood and Transplant added: “NHS Blood and Transplant collects, tests, manufactures and delivers blood to hospitals across England and North Wales.

“We currently have five blood manufacturing facilities and on July 30 the Board agreed to progress a proposal to reduce this to three. This would mean the closure of the Sheffield and Newcastle manufacturing facilities.

“The board made the decision to progress the proposal on the basis that the changes will help deliver our Blood 2020 strategy and represent long term investment in our manufacturing operations. Reducing the number of manufacturing facilities will help make the best use of every voluntary donation, maximise the use of equipment and enable us to flexibly respond quickly to changes in volume and component specification.

“We are working with our hospital customers to ensure a smooth implementation.

“The proposal will now be subject to a formal collective consultation with the Trade Unions.

“We would not expect the manufacturing activities from Newcastle and Sheffield to transfer to Manchester until 2017 at the earliest and will support employees throughout the process.”