3.8 Sector risk management

The NBA has approached the management of sector risk through several strategies, including the National Blood Supply Contingency Plan (NBSCP), sector risk coordination and appropriate stocking and the management of the national reserve.

National Blood Supply Contingency Plan

In August 2007, the JBC endorsed a draft of the NBSCP. In line with business continuity or emergency management approaches, this plan was tested through a desktop exercise in September 2007.

This was the first national exercise to test the governments’ preparation in the event of a blood supply crisis. It confirmed that the framework for decision making, broad roles and responsibilities of the key players was adequate to manage the activities required as part of the exercise. Despite this, it highlighted a need to make some operational improvements in how the NBSCP was implemented.

On 18 April 2008, the NBSCP was endorsed by Health Ministers, after consideration and support by a range of relevant committees, including AHMAC, Australian Health Protection Committee (AHPC) and the CTEPC.

An appropriate communication strategy for the NBSCP was developed in consultation with the jurisdictions that aim to:

Further work will be required during 2008–09 to communicate and implement the NBSCP, as well as to ensure that appropriate operational processes are put in place so that timely and accurate information to stakeholders is provided in the event the plan is activated. The NBA will also consider and commence work on additional response annexes, such as a transfusion transmitted infection annex.

Photo: Blood supplies
National Blood Supply Contingency Plan

The National Blood Supply Contingency Plan (NBSCP) outlines the planning, preparation, governance and decision making, response and recovery frameworks for a supply shortage or increased product requirement due to a demand surge.

The Plan was endorsed by the Health Ministers on 18 April 2008 and incorporates the careful networking and collaboration with sector wide stakeholders. This consultation process has ensured that the NBSCP is appropriately integrated and linked with the national health emergency arrangements. It details three levels of accountability

Nationally, the NBA is responsible for the overall management of the plan, but is primarily the conduit between governments’ decisions and suppliers. The Australian Health Protection Committee (AHPC) becomes involved in decision-making when actions required impact on the capacity of the health sector to maintain normal practice or where blood sector involvement is required during a broader health sector issue. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is responsible for elements that affect or are related to the regulation of blood and blood-related products.

Operationally, suppliers of products are responsible for managing inventories and reserves, reporting, donor recruitment and management, collection, manufacture, equitable distribution and interface with the clinical community, as well as implementation of government decisions.

Clinically, governments cannot predetermine the treatment of patients requiring blood and blood-related products. Hospitals, clinicians and pathology providers will have a vital role in assessing the patient requirements in the context of individual needs and the capacity of their facilities to provide treatment. The Plan encourages institutions to establish governance arrangements and emergency blood management plans with strong triage and vetting processes to support clinical decision making that is built on effective integration between hospitals and pathology services.

To supplement the NBSCP, a range of specific annexes have been prepared to outline the triggers and roles and responsibilities of the major stakeholders for a specific product group or event. At this stage, two response annexes have been developed: red blood cells and plasma-derived and recombinant products.

Sector risk coordination

During 2007–08 the NBA has continued to work with the Office of Health Protection, a unit of the Department of Health and Ageing, to ensure continual linkages with broader health sector emergency management arrangements.

Key elements of this work included:

National reserve

The NBA contracts with CSL Ltd to manage a national reserve of the plasma products it produces, as well as supplying certain imported plasma-derived products. The national reserve is held at locations around Australia for contingent use. In 2007–08, the contractual arrangements for the management of the national reserve were renegotiated for a further two years.

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