A Parliamentary inquiry into the rules around gay men donating blood has been launched.

Currently in the UK, men who have sex with men are only able to donate blood if they abstain from sex for 12 months.

Campaigners say that the rules are inconsistent with modern HIV screening technology, with some favouring a system based on individual risk as operated in other countries.

Today, the MP for Glasgow South Stewart McDonald chaired an evidence session in Parliament on the issue, as the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Blood Donation begins an inquiry into the rules.

The inquiry will seek to inform and provide policy recommendations to the current exclusion of gay men under current blood donation guidelines.

Stewart McDonald MP said: “The APPG will look at how we can increase the blood stock while always maintaining its safety and integrity.

“There is a body of evidence which shows the 12-month deferral period for Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) donating blood could be reduced to 3 months and we want to explore all restrictions on donation to ensure as many people as possible are able to do this life-saving act.

“We’re looking forward to taking further evidence later this year.”

Further sessions will look to compile evidence and produce a report on how to ensure as much safe blood as possible is donated. Current figures suggest, only 4 per cent of people in the UK regularly donate blood.

Last year, public health minister Jane Ellison MP confirmed the Department of Health would carry out its own review of the policy.

However, the government review is being conducted behind closed doors.

The APPG on Blood Donation was launched in March to enable public consultation on the issue and inform a new policy which will ensure people who are able to safely donate blood can do so.

The current restriction applies to sexual orientation, rather than to sexual activity.

A gay man who practices safe sex with one partner cannot donate blood whereas a heterosexual person who has unsafe sex with a multitude of partners has no such restrictions on donating blood.

The APPG will also consider current restrictions relating to a lifetime ban for those who have ever injected drugs or those who have ever had sex for money.