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The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has saved an average of €350,000 annually on blood bags alone over the past five years, in discounts obtained through NHS Blood and Transplant bulk procurement – savings that could end following Brexit. In an interview with the Medical Independent (MI), IBTS CEO Mr Andrew Kelly said the service procured many of its supplies with the UK blood services.
“But clearly when they leave the EU we won’t be able to benefit because they will not be, I’d imagine, sticking to EU procurement rules, because they are too constraining in the way they operate, so we won’t be able to join with them any longer.
“We could find ourselves with increased costs because of that, and we have saved millions because of that, as obviously they have much greater purchasing power than we have.”
Mr Kelly confirmed that the issue of Brexit was troubling for the IBTS “on a number of levels”.
Many of its supplies are made in, or transit through, the UK. The IBTS contacted suppliers of critical products before 31 March to make sure they had contingency plans and to devise alternative arrangements if necessary.
“We purchased upfront a number of our critical supplies like blood bags, testing reagents, or apheresis sets, things like that, and we spent €1.5 million, which we’d spend anyway, but it was sort of to stockpile a little bit.
“We are revisiting that at the moment because 31 October is the next deadline,” according to Mr Kelly, who was speaking to MI in mid-July.
“The other thing is contingency for product – if we are ever in a massive shortage we will import from England. Obviously England have said they will maintain the EU directive standards, because it is a standard they would want to maintain and they always were at that level in any event.
“But I am sure over time there will be divergence, and we will have to monitor that very carefully and make sure we are on top of it.”