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As a trauma surgeon I was always acutely aware of the lifesaving value of blood transfusion. The last decade has seen many innovations in transfusion management of trauma stimulated in part by recent military experience. Patients suffering severe injury need to get to the right specialist centre staffed by experts, not simply the nearest hospital. The same appears to be true for blood transfusions. Patients need the right components at the right time, based on expert advice.
Our patients and front-line clinicians in the NHS lean heavily on its cadre of transfusion scientists and colleagues. Often unsung, they provide the testing and blood components that we rely on, working in tandem directly with the treating specialists. Many patient groups, those with sickle cell anaemia, thalassaemia and with bone marrow failure are particularly dependent on long-term transfusion support. Others need blood as a life-saving intervention when least expected, whether through injury, surgery or childbirth. NHS Blood and Transplant collects nearly 5,000 blood donations a day to meet hospital needs. The appropriate use of blood products in our country is extremely safe but of course this demand high vigilance and monitoring; there is always room to improve.
It was therefore my pleasure to introduce Transfusion 2024, a clinical symposium, organised in partnership between NHS Blood and Transplant and the National Blood Transfusion Committee. The symposium discussed a 5-year strategy for Hospital transfusion in England, looking at how best to maintain good staffing and good practice in blood banks, maintain and improve on the very considerable advances in laboratory and clinical blood transfusion over the last 20 years, and look to the future with investment in research and scientific advances in all areas.
I was impressed to hear of the reduction of blood use through good research and better clinical practice improving patient outcomes and reducing costs at the same time. There are also pressures in the system that will benefit from better networking and training. The future for blood products is exciting with a vision to further improve the quality of components and the personalisation of transfusion using genetic testing for donors, clinical monitoring through tracking big data and clinical innovations such as laboratory grown blood.
As the NHS progresses its Long Term Plan I look forward to working with the NBTC and NHS Blood and Transplant as important partners in building for the future.