New Brunswick

N.B. needs own blood service: doctors

The head of the Medical Staff Organization for the Saint John region says it's time for New Brunswick to handle its own blood processing.

Canadian Blood Services plant moving to N.S.

The head of the Medical Staff Organization for the Saint John region says it's time for New Brunswick to handle its own blood processing.

Doctors are angry that Canadian Blood Services is moving the Saint John processing and distribution facility to Dartmouth, N.S. The move was announced in September 2009.

Dr. Andrea Garland, who represents physicians in the Saint John region within the Horizon Health Network, said Friday that doctors are concerned blood products won't be able to reach patients in time and that lives could be lost.

Garland flew to Ottawa this week to plead the region's case at a CBS board meeting. She said it quickly became clear the organization won't change its plans.

It's time for New Brunswick to get serious about moving ahead without CBS, she said.

"The national body oversees things, but the day-to-day productions, we are already doing," Garland said.

"We have the expertise here; we have the production facility. We do a good job; we service our province well. We've been a net exporter of blood, and, you know, essentially, we can do it."

N.B. Health Minister Mary Schryer has said she's open to looking at the options, including going it alone or partnering with another province. 

Canadian Blood Services has said it will invest $38 million in the new Nova Scotia facility, along with new blood donor clinics in Halifax and Saint John.

Last year, the New Brunswick government offered to pay for a 13,000-square-foot addition to the agency's existing 40,000-square-foot facility, which is near the Saint John Regional Hospital, after CBS said it needs a larger space.

Canadian Blood Services, a not-for-profit, charitable organization, was created in 1998 to take over the management of blood and blood products from the Canadian Red Cross after the tainted blood scandal in the 1980s.

Thousands of Canadians received tainted blood products and contracted HIV and the hepatitis C virus; hundreds died.

The Krever Commission recommended a single national operator to manage the blood system and in response, the federal government set up the CBS, which controls the blood supply in all provinces and territories except Quebec.