Australian Red Cross Blood Service: Manufacturer or Healthcare Provider?
The Medical Scientists Association of Victoria is warning of attempts by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service to redefine itself from being a health service to a manufacturer.
In announcing redundancies of more than 40 scientist positions in Melbourne, the Red Cross Blood Service revealed it is pursuing a strategy to slash the need for science qualifications for scientist positions, to enable a shift to being a “lean” “manufacturer” rather than the provider of a safe and secure blood supply for patients who require blood transfusions.
Such a shift will ultimately result in workers that have no scientific qualifications undertaking the screening and processing of blood donations. This is all about saving money, not saving lives.
“It is extremely concerning to MSAV members to see the Red Cross Blood Service, the only provider in Australia of safe blood supplies, attempting to redefine itself as a manufacturer and attacking the very workers, the scientists, that keep blood safe,” said Dr Rosemary Kelly, secretary of the Medical Scientists Association of Victoria.
The Red Cross Blood Service’s scientists at its Melbourne processing centre are responsible for making sure 40 per cent of Australia’s blood supply is safe, and supplies blood and blood products to hospitals in South Australia and Tasmania as well as Victoria.
“The scientists at the Red Cross Blood Service are highly qualified professionals who are a vital part of Australia’s healthcare system. They contribute to world-class research and make the Red Cross Blood Service a world leader in testing and processing life-saving blood.
“It’s unbelievable that the Blood Service would attempt to slash its scientific workforce when it is scientists who make sure blood supplies are safe and secure.
“This move surely brings into question the commitment of the Red Cross Blood Service to being a healthcare provider, a provider which is absolutely essential to our healthcare system. And the Red Cross is determined to pursue this strategy, despite the views of the scientists.
“In light of the plans announced by the Red Cross Blood Service to slash scientist positions and dumb down qualifications, and the intransigence of Red Cross management, the MSAV and its members call on Australia’s health ministers to investigate the impacts these plans will have on the safety and reliability of our blood supply.” Dr Kelly said.