New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) yesterday advised staff at its Wellesley Rd Donor Centre in Napier of a proposal to close the centre, affecting up to eight staff members.
The Napier Donor Centre, which has a total of eight part- time workers, is one of two nationwide earmarked in a proposal to make the transition from a fixed site collection facility to a mobile donor collection service.
Staff were reluctant to talk about the meeting and its ramifications yesterday, although one did say their thoughts were with the donors.
"We [staff] have been together for so long here - we're like a family. It is sad and everyone is a bit down."
Some staff members had been with the Napier Blood Service for 15 years.
They were told there may be opportunities to re-deploy to other areas of the service.
"We've performed well here, always have, and we really do feel for the donors."
It is understood question and answer forms had been prepared for donors wondering how the closure will affect their future calls to give blood.
Chief Executive Officer Fiona Ritsma had met personally with staff about the proposal following a review of NZBS' whole blood collections facilities.
"It was deeply disappointing and difficult to have to present such a proposal to staff, but with a decline in demand for red blood cells from District Health Boards it was critical that NZBS reviewed its facilities and practices to ensure a sustainable balance between supply and demand. The decline in the use of red cells in New Zealand hospitals reflects an international trend to use the gift of donated blood more," she said.
Mrs Ritsma said NZBS had to evaluate how it could continue to deliver services without compromising safety and surety of supply.
"This is not something that in any way reflects on the way in which the staff or the centre operate, and the proposal is due to factors beyond their control. Those staff are highly valued and we are committed to supporting them in every way possible through this process.
"Donors in Hawke's Bay will be able to continue to donate at regular mobile blood drives and can plan their donation well in advance thanks to the appointment system. Over 50 per cent of all donations across New Zealand are already collected via our mobile blood drives. The donation system and the quality of care remains the same."
While the demand for red blood cells had declined, the demand for other blood products such as platelets and plasma was constant. The NZBS required around 3000 donations every week.
New Zealand is one of very few countries in the world that can meet the needs of its own population for blood and blood products through voluntary, non-remunerated donors.
NZBS is formally entering into a consultation period with affected staff and their unions.