Under the National Blood Authority Act 2003, the National Blood Authority (NBA) is responsible for ensuring that patients in Australia have an adequate, safe, secure and affordable blood supply. This includes having contingency and risk mitigation measures in place to ensure continuity of the supply of blood and blood-related products and services.
The National Blood Supply Contingency Plan (NBSCP) provides the NBA and key stakeholders with a framework to enable a rapid national response to supply threats. It is designed to complement contingency arrangements of suppliers and government departments across jurisdictions, to provide a joint approach to managing risks to the blood supply and potential impacts on the broader health sector.
About the NBSCP
The NBSCP consists of a main document that outlines the risk management approach taken to assessing the possible problems, governance arrangements, roles, responsibilities and the overarching strategies in place to mitigate a supply or demand crisis. The plan also aims to improve awareness and ensure appropriate planning is in place for dealing with the impact of blood crisis in the health sector.
This main document is supported by a range of annexes to guide key stakeholders in responding to a supply or demand crisis. The suite of annexes is:
- Annex A Red Cell Response Plan;
- Annex B Plasma & Recombinant Products Response Plan;
- Annex C Platelets Response Plan; and
- Annex D Transfusion Transmissible Infection (TTI).
The overarching NBSCP response to activation involves three levels of accountability in a crisis:
- National – which covers the roles of national government bodies such as the NBA, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the Office of Health Protection (OHP) and Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) in gathering and communicating information between governments and suppliers and being the link to broader government emergency management arrangements;
- Operational – which covers the role of suppliers in managing operational activities around collection, manufacture, distribution and interface with the clinical community; and
- Clinical – which covers the role of clinicians and pathology providers in reducing demand through strong triage and vetting processes based on clinical needs.
The input and involvement by the clinical community is a key and vital element of the response to any activation of the NBSCP. It is important that institutions have arrangements in place to support the clinical management of blood and blood products in a crisis and to assist clinicians in responding to patient requirements in the most effective manner.
Review of the NBSCP
In 2019, the NBA reviewed the NBSCP, including extensive supplier and stakeholder consultation. This review found that the NBSCP is a well-established contingency plan within the Australian blood sector, and would benefit from both a structured testing and exercise program, as well as harnessing opportunities to integrate with other contingency planning arrangements in both jurisdictional and Commonwealth environments.
In early 2020, the NBA formed a working group including representatives of all jurisdictions as well as key Commonwealth stakeholders including the Department of Health and the Office of Health Protection and Response. The working group will input into the NBA’s recommendations to the Jurisdictional Blood Committee (JBC) for a testing and exercise program which will include jurisdictions, suppliers and other key stakeholders. Findings from this testing and validation process, as well observations from the COVID-19 pandemic experience, will result in updates to the NBSCP for the endorsement of the JBC and Health Ministers.
Download the NBSCP