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Government to strengthen the national blood supply system.



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Media Release Dr Michael Wooldridge Minister for Health and Aged Care

MW49/01 8th June 2001

GOVERNMENT TO STRENGTHEN THE NATIONAL BLOOD SUPPLY SYSTEM Proposals for a strengthened blood banking and plasma product sector were announced today by Federal Health Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge.

Releasing a report - Review of the Australian Blood Banking and Plasma Product Sector - prepared for the Government by a team chaired by former Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stephen, Dr Wooldridge said the Government's new proposals reinforce its ongoing commitment to national self-sufficiency and to voluntary blood donors.

"Central to the Government's response to the Blood Review is the maintenance of a voluntary system of blood collection and I pay tribute to those thousands of volunteer donors and acknowledge the community's debt to them," Dr Wooldridge said.

"The Review provides recommendations to ensure Australians will continue to be provided with an adequate and secure supply of safe, high quality blood and blood products and to promote safety and quality in the clinical use of these products."

The major recommendations relate to:

Safety and quality - in the supply and clinical use of blood ● Planning and managing supply needs ● Information, monitoring and research ● Governance and the need for a national approach ●

Dr Wooldridge said in response to the Review, the Government will undertake detailed consultations with the States and Territories, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, donors, consumers and other groups to develop a detailed implementation plan for the Review's proposals.

He said the Government will be taking measures that build on initiatives of the past and position Australia to meet the demands of the future.

In the coming months the Commonwealth Health Department will be consulting widely to strengthen the blood banking and plasma product sector by:

strengthening blood supply arrangements to counter concerns associated with emerging diseases; ●

building consumer confidence by continuing to focus on quality and safety; ● improving capacity to keep abreast of new and emerging technologies; ● maintaining high standards for blood and blood products through the national regulatory arrangements administered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration; ●

providing greater certainty through a more predictable and responsive blood supply service; ● providing for improved public accountability by new cost sharing arrangements within the sector; and ●

setting up flexible and responsive national management arrangements. ●

Dr Wooldridge said he was grateful to Sir Ninian Stephen, Dame Margaret Guilfoyle, Professor Robert Beal and Professor Judith Whitworth who, together with a support group, produced the national blood review.

"This has been a mammoth undertaking and I know the Review team consulted widely and considered every aspect of the nation's blood and blood products management and needs.

"This is a very valuable document and will assist all Australian governments, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and providers of blood products to better respond to current and emerging challenges to maintain the safety, quality and continuity of the Australian blood supply," Dr Wooldridge said.

"All Australians are aware of the potential threats to the blood supply from emerging diseases such as variant CJD, the human equivalent of mad cow disease.

"Since coming into office, the Government has supported measures to improve the safety of Australia's blood supply and to respond to increasing demands for specialised blood and plasma products. "Australia's blood supply is of a high standard and this will be maintained into the future."

Dr Wooldridge said the new arrangements will set in place a more comprehensive and cohesive national approach that will improve the quality, safety and availability of blood and blood products for Australians.

The Blood Review report is available on the web: www.health.gov.au/hsdd/bloodreview

Media Contact: Craig Simonetto, Office of Dr Wooldridge, 0413 722281 Kay McNiece, Dept. Health & Aged Care 0412 132 585

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Published on Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care web site 8 June 2001 Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care URL: http://www.health.gov.au/mediarel/yr2001/mw/mw01049.htm