1.2 National Blood Authority Board Chair’s report

I am pleased to present the NBA Board’s annual report on its operations during the year ending 30 June 2008, as required under Section 44(2) of the National Blood Authority Act 2003.

The NBA Board was established under the National Blood Authority Act 2003, with four functions:

1. To participate in consultation with the Australian Government Minister for Health and Ageing about the performance of the NBA’s functions.

2. To provide advice to the General Manager about the performance of the NBA’s functions.

3. To liaise with governments, suppliers and other stakeholders about matters relating to the NBA’s functions.

4. To perform such other functions (if any) as specified in a written notice given by the Minister to the Chair.

Board members are selected by the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference (AHMC) and appointed by the Australian Government Minister for Health and Ageing to serve a period not exceeding four years.

2007–08 priorities

In 2007–08 the NBA Board held four meetings. At our meeting in June 2007, the Board advised management on appropriate priority areas for 2007–08 and I am pleased to report significant progress on these items. At that meeting, the Board also agreed to a strategy to strengthen engagement with the blood sector and resolved to initiate a program of inviting stakeholders to meet with the Board and senior management to discuss emerging priorities in the sector. We also decided to hold every second Board meeting outside Canberra in order to visit and meet with stakeholders to ensure that the Board had current and first-hand knowledge of issues.

Our program of stakeholder engagement started with our Board meeting in Melbourne (October 2007) and continued in Sydney (April 2008). The Melbourne visit provided the Board with the opportunity to visit the facilities of CSL Ltd at Broadmeadows, and in Sydney we visited the ARCBS Clarence Street facilities. The latter visit enabled the Board to appreciate the ARCBS Business Case for the New South Wales and ACT principal site. The Board met in Canberra in February 2008 and we were delighted to meet the Parliamentary Secretary, Senator Jan McLucas, for dinner.

In addition to our detailed work program of sector issues, the Board has reviewed the manner in which we discharge our overall obligations to provide advice about the performance of the NBA’s functions. Flowing from our consideration of the Strategic Risk Management Plan, the Board worked with the General Manager on refining three specific initiatives, designed to improve and enhance the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the NBA, namely:

The Board was able to provide a broad diversity of views and input on these strategies, incorporating experiences from the public and private sectors in financial accountability, clinical and community health disciplines. The Board’s view is that the overall performance of the NBA is highly professional, with a clear commitment to ensuring value for money to funding bodies.Below is a summary of the major areas of contribution by the Board over the past 12 months.

Fresh blood

Business study of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service
A business study into the operations of the ARCBS was completed in December 2007 and the outcomes were assessed by the Board to help the NBA analyse and prepare options for the Jurisdictional Blood Committee’s (JBC) consideration. The Board will actively assist NBA management to monitor and implement the study recommendations. Mr Ken Barker and I represented the Board on an advisory group to the General Manager for this study.One of the core observations of the study was recognition of the need for greater communication between the ARCBS and NBA Board members. As a result, the ARCBS Board has been invited to meet with the NBA Board — which I hope will be the first of many such meetings of the two bodies.
Australian Red Cross Blood Service principal site — New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory
The Board was consulted by the General Manager in relation to the ARCBS proposal for a new principal site in Sydney. Board input was also sought before the NBA’s assessment of the final cost position for the project and in relation to indemnities sought by ARCBS. Funding for relocation of the NSW and ACT principal site was approved by Health Ministers at their meeting held on 18 April 2008.

Commercial contracts

A new agreement with CSL Ltd
With the current CSL Ltd agreement due to expire on 31 December 2009, the Board has been actively engaged in discussions with the General Manager on the development of policy parameters to govern the new agreement.
Distribution arrangements for plasma and recombinant products
A key strategy in addressing wastage and improving performance within the supply chain is to implement the recommendations arising from the Plasma Fractionation Review for a detailed review of distribution arrangements for blood products.The Board has worked closely with NBA management to develop the terms of reference for the Review. The JBC endorsed the terms of reference at its February 2008 meeting and supported the proposed governance arrangements. Advice from the Board to include a suppliers’ reference group to ensure that key supplier stakeholders could provide input was integral in maintaining our commitment to effective stakeholder engagement.
Defined blood products contracts
Current defined blood products contracts with a range of suppliers are due to expire on 30 June 2009. While all contracts have extension provisions, the NBA, with Board guidance, has commenced work to determine and implement appropriate procurement action for defined blood products after this date.
Plasma industry analysis
During a major trip undertaken by the NBA General Manager and myself this year to the 14th International Plasma Protein Congress in Warsaw, we visited other European countries to engage with representatives of the plasma fractionation industry. I was pleased to see that the NBA, after only five years, has developed a well-recognised international reputation for its thorough and professional approach to plasma industry issues. The quality and price paid by Australia for the range of plasma derived and recombinant products is of leading world standard and reflects our intensive and detailed understanding and analysis of this industry.

Data activities

The Board has encouraged the NBA to develop a detailed strategy for sector data development and management that would provide clarity about roles and responsibilities across the blood sector, and in particular, how the NBA could best add value. Quality data collections, data linkage projects and data integration across jurisdictions, will allow the sector to take a more professional approach to analysing potential new investments and initiatives. In developing the strategy the Board has encouraged the NBA to ensure adequate engagement by the clinical community — acknowledging the need to ensure that data systems provide the end users with real benefits. The update on this work presented in February to the Board provides a sound framework for ensuring adequate integration of data requirements for the blood sector to the wider health sector data and information frameworks and will now be progressed through an expert blood informatics group consisting of data and systems experts nominated by jurisdictions.

2008–09 focus

The Board has provided advice on the priorities for inclusion in the NBA 2008–09 Operational Plan and during this period will, as part of our overall performance monitoring obligations, maintain a strong focus on the principle of improving the effectiveness and value for money of government investment in the blood sector, particularly in the context of NBA activities in the following areas:

The Board has endorsed the desktop project initiated by the NBA to formalise its process of monitoring developments in relation to new techniques, technologies and products that may have applicability to the Australian blood sector. These developments have the potential to affect the blood sector in the short, medium and long term, and will offer scope for improved efficiency, efficacy and safety in nearly every area of the blood collection, processing, fractionation, distribution and use spectrum. The Board has encouraged the NBA to take a very proactive stance on this information and to provide governments with well-researched assessments and timely information on policy options and implications of these changes.Finally, I would like to acknowledge the contribution of all Board members in providing sound and well-considered advice to the NBA General Manager in what is a complex sector. The sector will continue to face serious challenges in increasing its sustainability in the face of the escalating demand for blood and blood-related products and, in particular, the constant need to ensure value for money in a complex and changing broader health policy environment. I am confident that I speak for my Board colleagues when I say we look forward to continuing our role in the year to come.


Mr Garry Richardson
National Blood Authority Board

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