About 1% of the population or 42,000 patients are treated with blood or blood products in New Zealand each year.
Internationally, many countries have already gone through the process of building an integrated national blood service and NZBS can learn from their experience.
From this international experience, it is clear that a single, integrated national blood service is the preferred approach as it improves consistency; provides strategic direction; improves cost-effectiveness; allows new technologies and trends to be evaluated and introduced in an appropriate manner; and most importantly reinforces safety as the highest priority.
NZBS has developed close working relationships with the:
These countries are geographically close either in proximity or terrain, have similar strategic perspectives on integrated national blood services and face similar challenges in developing their blood services.
Maintaining an international strategic perspective is one of the key evolutionary developments the NZBS has introduced. It has given the NZBS the ability to review options and its direction with reference to the international community, not in isolation.
A great deal has been learned from these professional, high calibre, safety-focussed organisations. For example, acquisition of Observer status on the Council of Europe (for blood matters) allows the NZBS to remain up to date with the latest trends in quality and safety matters.
The NZBS can also draw on the experience of the National Blood Service (NBS) in England. The NBS has gone through revolutionary and evolutionary changes in its service delivery.
Drawing on international experience such as this, and the lessons learned, provides clarity on the best methods for delivery of services based on experience, rather than theory alone.