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Blood transfusion: Improvement and development

Emma Copperwaite, a Transfusion Improvement and Development Lead, explains how the creation of her role led to a leaner, harmonised, quality-assured and cost-effective service.

Being a Blood Transfusion Manager is hard. You must safeguard continuity of service and ensure that the laboratory meets all clinical governance and legislative requirements. It’s a challenging, complex and all-encompassing role. For this reason, large improvements or developments are often sidelined for mandatory obligations or the ever-changing requirements of the service. It can be frustrating as it’s often clear what service improvements or developments are needed, but there is not enough time in the day to concentrate on change. This was true for Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (MFT).

Autonomy and creativity

MFT is a collection of 10 hospitals located across Greater Manchester and our Hospital Transfusion Service is one of the largest in the UK. We issue approximately 50,000 units every year and provide a service to a range of complex and specialised clinical services. Due to the complexity and large size of MFT, transfusion improvements or developments were often placed on hold to maintain service provision and to tackle the here and now.

To combat this, in January 2020 I was employed as the Improvement and Development Lead for the MFT Transfusion Service. This was not a traditional route for a Senior Biomedical Scientist. My previous experiences and knowledge gained from working at a senior level at other hospitals, supportive mentors, networking and being an examiner for the IBMS Specialist Portfolio had prepared me for this unique role. Through these experiences, I have gained an understanding about how different laboratories will tackle the same problem in different and innovative ways. This has given me the ability to question the norm, and understand the intricacies and risks associated with blood transfusion – it means I am able to make informed decisions regarding best practice for any suggested change. While I felt prepared for this role,for the first time in my career I had no one to follow on from. This post was new, exciting and gave me autonomy. 

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Image credit | Alamy

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