Current Affairs

Caroline Lucas tables motion for ‘urgent review’ of blood donor rules

Joseph McCormick September 11, 2014
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Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has tabled an Early Day Motion which calls for an “urgent review” of the rules for selecting blood donors.

At present, men who have sex with men (MSM), can only donate if they have not had sex for 12 months or more.

In 2011, England, Wales and Scotland introduced a one-year deferral.

A lifetime ban remains in place in Northern Ireland.

Lucas’ motion is backed by the National AIDS Trust, and states that for donation criteria to be in line with the Equality Act, it must be based on up-to-date evidence.

However, the last review conducted by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) was in May 2011.

The motion also states that blood donation policy should be evidence-based but not unduly penalise or discriminate.

Ms Lucas said: “There is absolutely a moral obligation to ensure that people receiving blood donations are not put at unnecessary risk. There is also an obligation to ensure that potential donors are not unfairly discriminated against. It’s seriously concerning that there’s not been a formal review for more than three years – which means up to date evidence has not be taken into account.”

She said the onus was on SaBTO to justify the criteria, and called on the body to conduct an “urgent review of the evidence” available since 2011 to ensure compliance with the Equality Act 2010.

She added: “The pressure for a review is mounting. Our health service is in urgent need of increased supplies of safe blood. Only 4 per cent of adults are currently blood donors*. If they are to be non-discriminatory, the rules setting out restrictions on who can give blood must be based on up-to-date evidence and cannot be based on outdated information.”

The issue of fair blood donation rules is gathering pace, with the National AIDS Trust (NAT), the UK’s leading HIV campaigning charity, calling onSaBTO to review the permanent ban for those who have ever been paid for sex and those who have ever injected drugs, alongside the 12-month deferral for gay men.

Yusef Azad, director of policy and campaigns at NAT, said: “We want to see blood donation policy based on current evidence, which protects the public but doesn’t unjustly penalise groups within our community. The current rules banning anyone who has ever been paid for sex or injected drugs from donating blood are discriminatory and unnecessary.  Similarly, the 12 month deferral for gay men is in urgent need of review. We agree with Caroline Lucas’ EDM and hope it will attract significant parliamentary support.”

Ms Lucas is also named as a co-sponsor of a Private Member’s Bill, tabled by Tory MP Michael Fabricant, which calls for the blood donor rules to be changed.

Related topics: blood, blood donation, Caroline Lucas, Equality Act, national aids trust

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