UK to Change Eligibility to Give Blood, Meaning More People From LGBT+ Communities Can Donate
As reported in previous Letters to Branches, it is long established CWU Conference policy to support the promotion of organ and blood donation. Following which the Union has become a registered partner of the NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT) organisation, promoting donation, supporting annual organ and blood donation weeks and supporting campaigns for positive changes.
We previously reported in LTB 262/20 the good news around the law change regarding organ donation in England and Scotland, similar to the change previously made in Wales which means that all adults would hence forth be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die unless they have ‘opted-out’ rather than the previous requirement to ‘opt-in’ to being a donor. This change is warmly welcomed by NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT) who said that the change will lead to more lives being saved through organ donation.
NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT) have contacted the Union and other supporters today to inform us that from 14 June all blood, plasma and platelet donors will be asked about recent sexual behaviours using the newly re-named Donation Safety Check form, currently known as the Donor Health Check. All donors regardless of gender will be asked the same sexual behaviour questions, meaning more people from LGBT+ communities will be eligible to donate, marking a historic move to make blood donation more inclusive without affecting safety.
NHSBT say that changes will mean that eligibility to donate will be based on a more individualised assessment rather than on a risk assigned to a group or population, and deferrals will be based on behaviours evidenced to be at a higher risk of sexual infection. The process of giving blood will not change. Donors will no longer be asked if they are a man who has had sex with another man. Instead, any individual who attends to give blood – regardless of gender – will be asked if they have had sex and, if so, about recent sexual behaviours.
The ‘Terrence Higgins Trust’ has strongly welcomed the change in a statement issued today, stating that “It’s great to see these changes to blood donation eligibility being brought in from June. THT have always been clear that the safety of the blood supply is the priority here. This change to a more individualised risk assessment is in line with the latest scientific evidence while also allowing as many people as possible to safely donate blood”.
(NOTE: Terrence Higgins Trust is a British charity that campaigns about and provides services relating to HIV and sexual health).
Whilst NHSBT have had to reduce the intensity of their public information campaign during the Covid-19 pandemic, they remain firmly committed to publicising the donation rule change. They inform us that they are in the process of planning the next phase of the campaign and publicity.
NHSBT have thanked supporters including the CWU and requested that supporting organisations including the CWU help in communicating the message to ensure as many people as possible are aware of the change and understand the vitally important need for life-saving organ and blood donation.
At the same time NHSBT seek to reassure people that it is still their choice whether or not to be a blood and/or organ donor. People’s faith, beliefs and culture will always continue to be respected by NHSBT and CWU.
To read further information on the 14 June changes visit: https://www.blood.co.uk/news-and-campaigns/news-and-statements/fair-steering-group/
To obtain further general information, go to the NHSBT Website at: www.nhsbt.nhs.uk
Information Telephone Line. Any member wishing to speak to somebody about their choices can call a dedicated line:0300 303 2094
Previous LTBs issued on Blood and Organ Donation: LTB 262/20, 561/19, 387/19, 358/19, 269/19, 178/19, 084/19, 475/18, 454/18, 503/17.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer