Green MP calls for urgent review of blood donations rules

Besi Besemar September 11, 2014

The campaign for fair blood donation rules gathers pace as National AIDS Trust (NAT) backs EDM tabled by Caroline Lucas MP and calls for formal review.

Caroline Lucas MP
Caroline Lucas MP

Caroline the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion has tabled an Early Day Motion calling for an “urgent review” of blood donor selection criteria. Her Motion has received the backing of the NAT, which says blood donation policy should be evidence-based but not unduly penalise or discriminate.

In 2011 the lifetime ban on blood donation by men who have had sex with men (MSM) was lifted; however, there remains a 12-month deferral period.

A lifetime ban remains in force for anyone who has ever been paid for sex or has injected themselves with drugs.

Lucas’ Motion highlights the fact that, for donation criteria to be non-discriminatory and in line with the Equality Act 2010, it must be based upon up-to-date evidence. However, the last review conducted by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) was in May 2011.

Caroline said: “There is absolutely a moral obligation to ensure that people receiving blood donations are not put at unnecessary risk. There is also an obligation to ensure that potential donors are not unfairly discriminated against. It’s seriously concerning that there’s not been a formal review for more than three years – which means up to date evidence has not be taken into account.”

She said the onus was on SaBTO to justify the criteria, and called on the body to conduct an “urgent review of the evidence” available since 2011 to ensure compliance with the Equality Act 2010.

Adding: “The pressure for a review is mounting. Our health service is in urgent need of increased supplies of safe blood. Only 4 per cent of adults are currently blood donors*. If they are to be non-discriminatory, the rules setting out restrictions on who can give blood must be based on up-to-date evidence and cannot be based on outdated information.”

The issue of fair blood donation rules is gathering pace, with the National AIDS Trust (NAT), the UK’s leading HIV campaigning charity, calling on SaBTO to review the permanent ban for those who have ever been paid for sex and those who have ever injected drugs, alongside the 12-month deferral for gay men.

Yusef Azad
Yusef Azad

Yusef Azad, director of policy and campaigns at NAT, said: “We want to see blood donation policy based on current evidence, which protects the public but doesn’t unjustly penalise groups within our community. The current rules banning anyone who has ever been paid for sex or injected drugs from donating blood are discriminatory and unnecessary. Similarly, the 12 month deferral for gay men is in urgent need of review. We agree with Caroline Lucas’ EDM and hope it will attract significant parliamentary support.”