‘People could die’ from Sheffield blood unit closure warns staff member - as decision looms

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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People could die if the closure of a Sheffield blood unit goes ahead, a member of staff at the facility has warned.

Plans to close the specialist NHS service, which processes blood for use in operations – with the loss of 45 jobs – were announced earlier this year, with plans to use a unit in Manchester instead.

Nathan Walsh, UNISON National Blood Transfusion service branch secretary and who works at the unit on Longley Lane, Longley, told a meeting of Sheffield Save Our NHS group: “All the hospitals nearby we supply, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, all the Sheffield ones, up to North Yorkshire, will have to get their products from Manchester.

“It doesn’t seem that big a deal, but to get to Sheffield you have to go over the Snake Pass, Woodhead Pass or the M62, the three worst roads in Great Britain for closing.

“People with cancer need specific products which can’t be kept on a shelf.

“You might turn up at Weston Park Hospital at 9am.

“As it is now we can get your stuff to you for lunch time.

“How it will be? You will be sat there at tea time.

“The knock-on effect is nurses will have to be waiting, doctors will have to be waiting, beds will be taken up with people that could have been out the door.

“In the case of inter-uterine transfusions for babies, the blood you supply would have to be processed and has a short shelf life of 24 hours.

“We can get it to a hospital in an hour. If it’s coming from Manchester, it’s got to get across the Pennines, plus they have to order a courier. You might be adding five hours. Can this baby wait? Can you wait if it’s life or death?.

“There will be people at risk, there will be potentially people dying from it.”

However, NHS Blood and Transplant said it was just a proposal for consideration.

A spokesman said: “We are in the early stages of considering options for the future and an option we are considering is the transfer of our manufacturing operations from Newcastle and Sheffield to Manchester.

“These discussions are in the early stages and we will be working closely with staff and local hospitals as we develop and consider proposals for the future.”