No local blood clinic? No problem
Canadian Blood Services is closing down a number of clinics throughout smaller locations in Canada.
There has been opposition to the move in the locations which will no longer have clinics, with critics saying they can no longer be served in their home communities.
André Picard is the health reporter for the Globe and Mail, and the author of a book on Canada's blood donation system. He says the closures are a good thing.
While he acknowledges that some dedicated donors will now be shut out of the system, Picard says the closures are a sign that blood collection and blood use is more efficient than it used to be: "You have to balance that emotional love for the blood system with efficiencies...it's a hard trade-off, but I think CBS is doing a pretty good job of it." He says it wouldn't be fair to tax payers to keep smaller, less cost-effective clinics open, just to keep donors happy.
You have to balance that emotional love for the blood system with efficiencies...it's a hard trade-off, but I think CBS is doing a pretty good job of it.- André Picard
When the closures were announced, some residents expressed concern that there would no longer be blood available for them in their communities, if they needed it. But Picard points out that all blood gets sent to bigger centres to be tested and treated before it's used: "it's not like you see in the World War II movies, where one tube goes from one guy, into the tube in the next bed. That just doesn't happen any more."
But if the demand is down and efficiencies are up, why do we still hear pleas for donors? "It's not a steady stream," says Picard, and fresh blood doesn't keep long. For example, there are often more car accidents on long weekends but fewer donors, which leads to a temporary shortage.
Overall, Picard, who wrote a book about Canada's tainted blood tragedy, says the blood system has improved so much since then that other segments of Canadian health care should look to it as a model.