Blood and blood products are a critical component of health care. It is the role of the National Blood Authority (NBA) to manage the national blood supply to ensure that healthcare providers have reliable and efficient access to blood and blood products needed for patient care, and that value for money is achieved.
Governments, through the NBA, spend over $1 billion per annum funding the supply of blood and blood products. Blood and blood products are provided to patients free of charge and based on clinical need and appropriate clinical practice.
Supply of blood and blood products relies on the donation of blood. In Australia, the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood (Lifeblood) (formerly the Australian Red Cross Blood Service) is responsible for all blood collections, under a contract with the NBA. Ensuring supply requires collection of over one million donations per annum by Lifeblood. Most plasma derived products used in Australia are manufactured by CSL Behring from plasma collected by Lifeblood under the National Fractionation Agreement for Australia (NaFAA). In addition, security of the blood supply also relies on the NBA procuring blood products from overseas. These products are either not manufactured in Australia or the Australian system is unable to produce enough product to meet demand.
The NBA ensures a secure supply of blood and blood products in Australia by:
- working with states and territories to determine and manage an annual supply plan and budget
- negotiating and managing blood supply contracts and arrangements with local and overseas suppliers
- administering payments to suppliers based on funding and supply contracts
- evaluating proposals to add, remove or change blood products on the National Product Price List, to support decision making by funding governments
- establishing risk and contingency management arrangements, including planning for times of supply shortage.