Helping to reduce risk in UK blood services

Professor Julie Kent, a sociologist from the Centre for Health & Clinical Research and Department of Health and Applied Social Sciences is collaborating on a national project that will inform public policy to make UK blood services safer.

Blood transfusions are often life-saving, but whilst receiving blood has become progressively safer some risks are still involved. This partnership project aims to identify the dangers, to increase public understanding, and inform policy, professional practice, and law relating to blood transfusions in the UK.

The project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), is a partnership between Professor Julie Kent at the University of the West of England, Dr Helen Busby (Principal Investigator) at the University of Leicester, and Dr Anne-Maree Farrell at the University of Manchester. Dr Busby explained that “The research will feed into current debates on issues faced by blood services. For example, for policy makers in the United Kingdom, managing the risk of transmission of Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in donated blood is currently an important priority.”

There is also currently national discussion about whether it is appropriate for patients to be asked to give their informed consent to receiving blood or blood products, where possible, as is required for many other medical interventions. The team, led by the University of Leicester will examine the risks and benefits of receiving blood or blood products and will consider the need for patients to give informed consent, if possible, before receiving blood.

In the past it has been difficult for lay people to access information about blood products, and stigma about certain diseases has intensified this problem. With emphasis on patient involvement in health services, there is now an expectation that there will be more information for all interested in their treatment. As Professor Julie Kent from UWE’s Centre for Health and Clinical Research explains, “This research project is therefore both timely and is expected to inform policy debate”.

Speaking about the importance of the research Professor Kent said: “I am delighted to be a collaborator on this project. Through its focus on blood services and ways in which protection of public health is understood and managed within these services the project will contribute to an important area of policy. I also see investigation of the issues faced by blood services as informing a wider understanding of the management of risk and safety and ethical concerns within contemporary ‘tissue economies'.”

For more information contact Professor Julie Kent

Visit the ESRC website to read more about the project

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