Well, no, they\’re not. But to hear the unions peeps screaming about it you\’d think they were:
Karen Jennings, head of health at the public sector Unison, said: “What is this Government thinking of, is nothing safe? The blood service is world class and doesn’t need interfering with.
“It epitomises how successfully volunteers and the public sector can work together, free from contamination by the profit motive. It is a service people are proud to work in and you cannot put a price on giving blood to save lives.
“We know from all the evidence that fragmenting services, outsourcing and contracting out, damages that ethos and more importantly damages the smooth running of the service.
“How can Cameron and Lansley claim that the NHS is safe in their hands, when they are planning to literally drain its lifeblood.”
What they\’re actually suggesting is:
In common with many public sector organisations, its call centre, catering, security, legal department and some office administration facilities are already run by private companies.
But under the new review led by the Department of Health and disclosed by the Health Service Journal, further functions such as the storage of blood and its delivery around the country – which is already part controlled by the courier firm TNT – could be sold off.
There are indeed very good reasons why we\’d like blood donation to remain a voluntary activity: but that doesn\’t mean that it has to be government owned of course. Just as with everyone\’s favourite examples of lighthouses and lifeboats, it\’s entirely possible, given the way in which we humans are indeed cooperative creatures, for voluntary cooperation to provide these services.
Rootling around for information on the price of blood (in the UK, £125 a unit, in hte US perhaps $200, so not out of line at all) I found this:
The system of blood distribution hasn\’t always relied on volunteer donors. Until the 1970s, a major portion of the nation\’s blood supply came from paid donors. But a government study found that volunteered blood was much less prone to hepatitis contamination. From then on, blood banks had to label their packages \”paid\” or \”volunteer,\” which had the effect of eliminating paid-donor blood from the national supply.
You could read that two ways: that regulation was required to make this possible, or that the reaction was so strong that regulation wasn\’t required: as soon as someone started credibly so labelling there would have been the switch anyway.
But the intriguing thing is that is disproves the idea that markets always lead to a race to the bottom. When actually offered the choice the market (OK, the buyers in that market) chose the higher, not lower, quality item.
And isn\’t that an interesting finding? Markets (can) push up quality, not drive it down……
Yes, yes, of course, we all know that: but it\’s a nice example to be able to use, no?