Patients are not at risk and on-site blood services continue as usual, despite Whangarei Hospital’s blood bank accreditation being put on-hold, says the Northland District Health Board.

The Whangarei Hospital Blood Bank accreditation was suspended by International Accreditation New Zealand (and not New Zealand Bank Services as was published yesterday).

The local service was caught short because one of those two resignations was sudden.

Staff from other laboratories and district health boards around New Zealand are stepping in to provide specialist cover.

The blood bank has to meet International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) requirements to be supplied with blood and blood products, but NZBS has agreed to continue the supply to ensure a safe, consistent service.

The NZBS is satisfied with a staff roster Northland District Health Board has pulled together.

Patching the gap includes a Whangarei Hospital shift staff scientist with experience at NZBS being appointed to the role of charge scientist.

During December, senior staff cover is being partially provided by NZBS and Counties Manukau DHB, with Hawkes Bay and Hutt Valley DHB staff assisting in January.

Meanwhile, laboratory and blood bank staff are undergoing further training and two permanent specialists are expected to be recruited to Whangarei Hospital in January.

Other Northland laboratories are also helping the hospital manage the situation.

”We have secured support from New Zealand Blood Service and other laboratories in the North Island to continue providing a full blood bank service,” said Andrew Potts, NDHB’s general manager surgical, pathology and ambulatory services.

”Our focus is to ensure that the suspension does not impact on our clinical services.”

The staffing agreement reached between NDHB and NZBS will allow the board to work towards getting the hospital’s accreditation back as soon as possible, Mr Potts said.
The target is early next year.

”Patients will continue to have access to a safe and consistent supply of blood and blood products, we do not expect there to be any disruptions to patient care or service.”

Every year, 120,000 units of blood are collected across New Zealand, and Whangarei Hospital’s blood bank uses 2.75 per cent of processed blood.

The Ministry of Health said it was aware of the situation and in regular contact with the DHB.

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