Discussions are still “continuing” on the development of a new Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) centre in Cork, a project that dates back to 1997.
According to a briefing note provided by the IBTS to the Department of Health in October, “the development of a new centre for Cork commenced in 1997, then in 2009 when the Government granted €17 million for this facility, and more recently in 2014, where the costs were revised and a sum of €12 million was agreed. Despite numerous meetings with the interested parties, it has not been possible to agree the activities that will be carried out and the design of the building.
“The board at its meeting in November 2017 decided that the IBTS would build on the St Finbarr’s site, where the current facility is, and if that was not possible on a greenfield site.”
In May 2018, the Medical Independent (MI) reported that the IBTS did not pursue development of the centre at Cork University Hospital (CUH) due to concerns that any over-run would not be covered by the HSE.
At its meeting in June 2018, the IBTS board decided that the diagnostic service and therapeutic apheresis service provided at the current Cork centre would cease from 1 April 2019 and discussions would take place immediately to ensure continuity of service.
“The Department was notified of this decision on 25 June but asked that the IBTS hold off informing the relevant parties,” according to the briefing note. “The board again at its meeting on 10 September reiterated this decision but extended the effective date to 1 June 2019 but again, the Department has asked that the decision is not promulgated. There is agreement that there should only be two blood banks/diagnostic laboratories in Cork, one in CUH and the other in MUH [Mercy University Hospital].”
From an IBTS perspective, “our priority for this centre is to recruit and retain sufficient donors of blood and platelets” and that it should be located in St Finbarr’s and not CUH.
An IBTS spokesperson told MI: “The discussions on the future development of the new centre in Cork are continuing. There has been no change to the services currently offered in Cork for therapeutic apheresis and [the] diagnostic laboratory. It is still the intention of the IBTS that these services should be transferred to CUH.”