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Scottish Lib Dems call for blood rethink

March 17, 2009 7:30 PM

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have followed the lead of the party in Wales in calling for a review of the policy that debars gay and bisexual men, and women who have had sex with a bisexual man in the past year, from donating blood in the UK.

A policy motion passed at the Scottish Lib Dem Spring conference this weekend reads:

Conference notes that the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service is experiencing a donor base decline with figures showing that Scotland has 30,000 fewer blood donors than a decade ago.

Conference further notes that all men who have had sexual relations with another man are permanently barred from donating blood in Scotland.

Conference further notes the work currently being undertaken by the Health Protection Agency in England into exclusion of donors due to high risk behaviour, due to be completed in 2010

Conference believes that:

Balancing advances in testing against the continued need for donor selection to ensure the safety of the blood supply, it is time to review whether current regulations on excluded groups such as, for example, gay and bisexual men, are fair (to both donors and recipients), transparent and consistent

Any regulation limiting an individual's ability to give blood should be based purely on medical science and an individual's personal activities rather than sexuality and social stigma.

Conference therefore calls on the Scottish Government:

to examine the case for introducing a testing regime that would provide good grounds for the relevant bodies to look again at the current blood donation restrictions including examination of the results of the Health Protection Agency in England's investigation into exclusion of donors;

to establish an independent committee including epidemiologists, blood user group representatives to investigate the medical case for reviewing blood donor selection,

and to make recommendations to the Scottish Parliament on how to increase the availability of donated blood while ensuring the safety of the blood supply.