§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. John Patten)
Figures for recent months on the number of donations are not yet available. However, inquiries suggest that there has been some reduction in donations in the past few months. It is not possible to distinguish how much of this is due to publicity on AIDS and how much to other factors such as the bad weather experienced earlier this year.
Our revised leaflet for blood donors concerning AIDS was of course deliberately designed to cause those in the high risk groups to refrain from donation. I should like to take this opportunity to reassure all members of the public that there is absolutely no risk of contracting AIDS through donating blood.
§ Mr. Dubs
Does the Minister agree that there is an acute shortage of blood for the transfusion services and that at least some of the shortage is caused by people's reluctance to go to blood transfusion centres for fear of being refused the chance to donate blood because of AIDS? Does the hon. Gentleman agree that he should take further action to encourage more people to give blood?
§ Mr. Patten
Preliminary figures show a drop in donations of 5 or 6 per cent. in the first three months of this year. People should not be inhibited from donating blood, because there is no risk of their contracting AIDS. All the equipment is sterile and it is all disposed of immediately after use; it is used only once. We are spending £250,000 in the current financial year to encourage more people to be blood donors.
§ Mr. Carter-Jones
Will the hon. Gentleman encourage the regions to send blood to the Elstree fractional unit to get the better and safer use of blood?
§ Mr. Patten
That is a very good idea, especially in the run up to the opening of the new blood products laboratory at Elstree, which is on target for completion in January 1986 at a cost of £35 million.