NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority.
Its remit includes the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England and North Wales and carrying out research and development.
It is also the organ donor organisation for the UK and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.
The organisation was formed in October 2005 from the merger of the National Blood Service and UK Transplant.
The NHSBT’s Research & Development (R&D) programme is fundamental in delivering even safer and more effective treatments, policies, practices and products in the future.
Undertaking R&D is included in NHSBT’s statutory instrument. Its ultimate aim is to improve patient and donor outcomes, with outputs translated into routine practice.
The current R&D programme spans eight research themes and six locations across England, comprising nearly 170 staff.
NHSBT’s principal investigators are either clinicians or scientists, most of whom are embedded in partner universities, strengthening links with academic and clinical colleagues.
Examples of NHSBT R&D resulting in changes to NHSBT/NHS practice, policy or service include:-
- The TAPS trial which demonstrated that pre-operative transfusions should be offered to sickle cell patients before undergoing low/medium risk surgery. This resulted in changes to the new British Committee for Standards in Haematology guidelines for transfusion;
- The TOPPS trial which demonstrated benefits of continuing prophylactic platelet transfusions to blood cancer patients with thrombocytopaenia. This resulted in changes to practice within hospitals;
- The Tissue Development Laboratory developed a decellularisation process for tissue grafts and this new product (called dCell dermis) significantly improves treatment of non-healing ulcers;
NHSBT also funds and sponsors research, in line with the Department of Health’s Research Governance Framework. NHSBT’s annual budget for R&D is ~£10M/annum which includes £2.8M from NIHR in the form of four Programme Grants. Other R&D funding includes, Grant in Aid (DH), research capability funding and 1% of the blood price levy.