Insights (Essays)

Insights (Essays) October 2014

Blood services staff fuming over blame for low inventory

Rick Janson

A fire destroyed this blood service mobile unit over the summer. Amid the lowest inventory levels in six years, CBS executives have decided not to replace it or the 7500 units of blood it collects annually.

Canadian Blood Services is telling staff that national blood inventory levels are at their lowest since 2008.

In a memo sent out September 30, Chief Supply Chain Officer Ian Mumford calls it “a serious performance gap,” leaving an already demoralized staff to wonder if they are being blamed for poor decisions made by the organization’s executives.

CBS has been dismantling much of its infrastructure around volunteer collections in recent years, including the closures of entire facilities in Thunder Bay, Ontario and Saint John, New Brunswick in 2012.

When an Ottawa-based bloodmobile caught fire this summer, CBS thought the volumes generated by it were insignificant and chose not to use the insurance to replace it. That blood mobile collected 7500 units a year.

Another mobile truck that could generate similar volumes has been sitting idle in an Ottawa yard for most of the year.

When appeals are issued, the call center staff in Sudbury are usually swamped. We’re told the phones ring off the hook and there are too few staff to answer all of these calls. That too has an impact on inventory — but that’s not all.

Many clinic boundaries were arbitrarily changed to CBS’ convenience, not to those of the regular donors. That has also taken people out of donation patterns that have existed in some cases for decades.

When representatives of CBS employees arrived for a national meeting in Toronto in 2012, CBS was candid that the future involved fewer workers – an admission that the organization is scaling down its capacity.

When CBS participated in an invitation-only roundtable by Health Canada to look at the paid plasma issue, they didn’t think the impact on their collections would be significant should the private for-profit Canadian Plasma Resources set up shop across the country.  Yet their own estimate of the impact was an 8 per cent loss in donor volume.

Every time an objection is raised to what appears to be the deliberate vandalism of the collections system, CBS tells the media that they have surplus supply. Except, as it turns out, they don’t.

Mumford says the present appeal to donors “is not a measure of our success, but a measure of our failure to do our job,” he writes. “We are failing to meet our commitment to Canadians, to patients, to our funders, and to our hospital customers.”

Those are very strong words and ones the provincial stakeholders should take note.

Self-sufficiency in blood and blood products was supposed to be our national goal. The World Health Assembly resolution (WHA63.12) urges all Member States (including Canada) to develop national blood systems based on voluntary non-remunerated blood donation and work towards the goal of self-sufficiency.

Instead CBS appears to be moving further away from those goals.

The tone of Mumford’s memo is the kind of script that usually ends with someone resigning their position.

It’s time for CBS to stop downsizing, to take the initiative on making Canada more self-sufficient, and to take seriously their responsibility to ensure both the quality and security of the blood supply. That includes telling Health Canada that CPR poses real risks to that supply.

As a key stakeholder and funder of Canadian Blood Services, Ontario shouldn’t take this passively. If CBS has failed on the scale Mumford claims has happened, then the CBS board owes all Canadians an obligation to change leadership.

Tickets are still available in many locations for Moyo Theatre’s “Tainted” tour of Ontario. The tour is intended to draw attention to threats to the safety and security of Ontario’s blood system, including plans by a private for-profit company to operate paid plasma sites across Canada.

About the Author(s)

Rick Janson writes DiaBlogue, a project of the OPSEU Health Care Divisional Council. The Council represents more than 45,000 professional and support staff in Ontario’s Health Care System.


Reprinted with permission from DiaBlogue 


Be the first to comment on this!

Note: Please enter a display name. Your email address will not be publically displayed