Introducing transfusion 2024

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.

Keith Willett

Professor Keith Willett is the Director for Acute Care to NHS England and is the Professor of Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery at the University of Oxford. An NHS consultant surgeon for 24 years he has extensive experience of trauma care, driving service transformation and healthcare management.  He has taught surgery and leadership extensively across the NHS and internationally.

In 2003 he founded the Kadoorie Centre for Critical Care Research and Education focusing on the treatment of critically ill and injured patients. This year IMPS, a children’s safety charity he launched, celebrated 20 years and over 250,000 children trained in risk awareness, first aid and life support.

He was the co-founder of the unique 24-hour consultant-resident Oxford Trauma Service at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford in 1994. Building on that model, in 2009 he was appointed the first National Clinical Director for Trauma Care to the Department of Health and was charged with developing and implementing government policy across the NHS to radically improve the care of older people with fragility hip fractures and to establish Regional Trauma Networks and Major Trauma Centres. By 2012 both re-organisations and care pathways were successfully in place and are now credited with marked improvement in patient care and survival.

In his current role, he has the national medical oversight of acute NHS services ranging from pre-hospital and ambulance services, emergency departments, urgent surgery, acute medicine, children’s and maternity, armed forces, and health and justice services and national major incidents. He is now leading the transformation of the urgent and emergency care services across the NHS in England.

He was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Years Honour’s List in 2016 for services to the NHS.  On receiving this honour he said “I have been exceptionally privileged to build a career as part of the collective commitment of so many dedicated individuals and friends who are our NHS”.

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  1. Hayley price says:

    Shame it depends on which dr attends in the air ambulance as to whether a patient lives or dies.
    My 39 year old fiancé was in an RTC on a 30 mph road, he was left with a femoral artery bleed on scene for nearly 2 hours alive.
    Paramedics were on scene within 2 mins & 14 secs
    The DR was on scene within 25 mins and he refused a cut down !!!! Instead he tried to get smaller veins in the hands and feet knowing the paramedics had already attempted this
    Paul died as they arrived at the trauma centre
    Which is a 18 min drive by road in an ordinary car