2.2 Background

The NBA was established in July 2003 under the National Blood Authority Act 2003 . It operates in accordance with the National Blood Agreement to improve and enhance the management of Australian blood banking and plasma product sector at a national level.

The 2001 Review of the Australian Blood Banking and Plasma Product Sector, chaired by the Rt Hon Sir Ninian Stephen, concluded that Australia’s blood supply system was highly fragmented and costly. The report’s core recommendation was to introduce a national approach to managing Australia’s blood supply through the establishment of a national blood authority.

The National Blood Agreement was approved by the AHMC in November 2002 and was subsequently signed by all Health Ministers. Legislation allowing for the establishment of the NBA passed through both Houses of Parliament unopposed and the NBA came into existence on 1 July 2003. National Policy objectives for these arrangements are detailed in the National Blood Agreement extract set out in Table 2.1

Table 2.1 The National Blood Agreement: objectives of governments

1. The primary policy objectives for the Australian blood sector are:

(a) to provide an adequate, safe, secure and affordable supply of blood products, blood related products and blood related services in Australia; and

(b) to promote safe, high quality management and use of blood products, blood related products and blood related services in Australia.

2 In pursuing the primary policy objectives, the Parties will have regard to the following secondary policy aims:

(a) to meet international obligations and standards;

(b) to maintain reliance on voluntary, non-remunerated donations of whole blood and plasma;

(c) to promote national self-sufficiency;

(d) to provide products to patients, free of charge and based on clinical need and appropriate clinical practice;

(e) to promote optimal safety and quality in the supply, management and use of products, including through uniform national standards;

(f) to make best use of available resources, and to give financial and performance accountability for the use of resources by all entities involved in the Australian blood sectors;

(g) to undertake national information gathering, monitoring of new developments, reporting and research in relation to the Australian blood sectors;

(h) to maintain flexibility and capacity to respond in a timely manner to changing circumstances and needs;

(i) to ensure public support and confidence in the Australian blood sector; and

(j) to work towards optimal access to blood products and blood-related products across the nation, ensuring that patients continue to access the blood products and blood related products their clinicians determine will best meet their needs so far as practicable in accordance with national best practice based on clinical guidelines. This clause does not preclude States and Territories from altering the range of blood products and blood related products that are prescribed and received in their jurisdiction.

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