What We Do

New Zealand Blood Service has four key areas:

Blood collection

The NZBS is committed to maintaining a system of blood collection based on the principle of voluntary, unpaid blood donation. This is recognised as the first, and one of the most important mechanisms by which the safety of the blood supply is assured.

The continued support and commitment of blood donors is essential to the success of the NZBS service provided to the healthcare community. This is achieved by the implementation of consistent national standards for the assessment of donors and for the collection process.

National consistency must however not detract from the maintenance and development of local community links. This aspect is seen to be particularly important in New Zealand and is a major factor influencing the activities of collection management.

Donor administration and blood collection co-ordination is focused on six main sites. These comprise of Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. These sites take responsibility for co-ordination of these activities across defined geographic regions.

Donation Centres are also maintained in Tauranga and two smaller sites in Auckland. Flexible mobile blood drive teams exist to service local communities.

Processing of blood donations

Processing of blood donations is centralised to four sites collectively handling around 147,000 donations per year. The sites are in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

Processing involves the separation of blood donations into blood components, principally red cells, platelets and fresh frozen plasma.

Centralisation of processing has resulted in a number of benefits to NZBS.

These include:

  • The introduction of standard approaches to the manufacturing process;
  • The application of principles of Good Manufacturing Practice, thus assuring safety and quality of components;
  • The realisation of economies of scale, both in relation to equipment and staff and;
  • The capability to respond to new safety requirements e.g. universal leucodepletion and viral inactivation of blood components.

Accreditation testing of blood donations

Accreditation testing is centralised in two sites, in Auckland and Christchurch.

Accreditation testing of all blood donations involves two distinct processes: blood grouping and screening for infectious markers.

Centralisation of accreditation testing has provided a number of benefits:

  • An ability to introduce new technologies that enable high throughput testing with direct transfer of results into the national IT System - eProgesa;
  • The application of principles of Good Manufacturing Practice, thus assuring safety and quality of components;
  • The realisation of economies of scale and experience, both in relation to equipment and staff; and
  • An ability to respond to new requirements for testing, in particular the introduction of Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT Testing) for hepatitis C infection.

Blood Banking

Blood Banks are the pretransfusion testing laboratories where blood products are matched to suit each individual patient. This includes determining the patient's blood type and matching this with appropriate products.

Blood Banks are always located at the hospitals and are often staffed after hours to meet any urgent need for blood.

NZBS operates six Blood Banks in six cities from Auckland to Dunedin, and another 28 District Health Board (DHB) Blood Bank laboratories also perform pretransfusion testing in line with defined quality standards.

For patients that have been previously transfused and for some post-natal women, finding the appropriate blood component can be a challenging task. NZBS Blood Banks are therefore equipped to perform additional blood testing whenever that is required. In addition, NZBS has dedicated serology laboratories performing specialist investigations of unusual and complicated patient cases.

To ensure the highest quality and patient safety of pretransfusion testing throughout New Zealand, NZBS has introduced the national blood management system eTraceline® in all Blood Banks in the country.

NZBS also conducts regular quality audits of DHB pretransfusion testing laboratories, and assists the local laboratories through staff competence surveys, training, and development of standard procedures.

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