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Life-saving work

Australian Red Cross Blood Service

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service is a division of Australian Red Cross and is fully funded by Australian governments for the provision of blood products and services to the Australian community.

Charlotte Leyshon-O’Brien was only nine-months-old when she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. She received 12 red blood and 14 platelet transfusions as part of a long and complex treatment, and thankfully she has been in remission since her stem cell transplant in 2010. “Our family will forever be grateful to all the doctors, nurses, staff and blood donors who helped her survive cancer before she was even able to walk,” says mum Danielle. Australian Red Cross/Dilini Perera.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service (Blood Service) and Australian Red Cross work closely, however both organisational streams are kept financially separate. Over the past year the Blood Service contributed to a Government-led review of Blood Sector Risk Management, examining the risk environment of the Australian blood sector and identifying Governments will be formulating their response to this review over the next year.

Australian Red Cross and the Blood Service work together in the International Humanitarian Blood Strategy, which draws on the international development expertise of the Red Cross International Program, closely aligned with technical expertise of the Blood Service. In October 2012, the Blood Service began processing all collections from South Australia at the Melbourne Processing Centre. Since the transition, inventory of products has been more stable in South Australia, and has delivered significant improvements in efficiency and value for stakeholders.

Demand for red blood cells is now decreasing despite population growth, a trend which is expected to continue for the next three years. The fall in demand for red blood cells represents a challenge for the Blood Service, as red cell collection has historically been a major collection source to meet plasma as well as platelet demand. The Blood Service now needs to review processes and business models to ensure the service remains effective in meeting Australia’s needs for blood and blood products.

Blood donor James Ryan made his final donation this year at the Town Hall Donor Centre (NSW) after having generously given 729 blood donations over his lifetime. There to farewell him was nurse Lizzie Thynne, who has helped people give blood for more than 46 years and was also retiring. Their dedication and commitment has helped save countless lives. Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

Our work internationally

The International Humanitarian Blood program continues to build on past work using a range of funding sources and programs tailored to each country’s needs. Through an Australia Awards Fellowships grant, AusAID has funded a second intake of 12 leaders from 10 Pacific countries for the Pacific Transfusion Leaders Program. Australian Red Cross has also commenced a two-year project working with the Indonesian Red Cross Society to develop quality systems for the Central Blood Transfusion Service in Jakarta, with the goal of developing a safe, sufficient and affordable national blood service.

A better donor experience

The Blood Service continues to look at ways to improve services for donors and to ensure the sustainability of the donor panel – the committed group of more than 600,000 Australians who donate blood every year. This includes commencing work on the implementation of a new Donor Relationship Management System, which will provide a central source of donor information to help better respond to the needs of donors and provide a more personalised experience. This complements the current Donation Experience Delivery project that aims to reduce waiting times, improve communications with donors and deliver efficiencies by adopting best practice in blood donation processes.

Improving efficiencies

The Blood Service and the National Blood Authority have implemented a National Inventory Management Framework which aims to establish optimal red cell inventory levels across the blood sector, improve the utilisation of blood and reduce wastage. An initial trial was conducted with the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, which was met with positive feedback and saw deliveries reduced to two daily and a 27 per cent reduction in blood inventory held by the hospital. These types of improvements will increase the efficiency of blood use in the sector, and in 2013/2014 the concept will be piloted at a further seven hospitals.