Issue number:
Date Issued:
03 Aug 2009
Issued to:
Public and Private Health Services and Pathology providers
The Department of Human Services endorses the National Blood Supply Contingency Plan (NBSCP). This circular directs health services to develop a local EBMP from the information available in the NBSCP and effectively manage blood supply and use at all times and in particular, in times of blood shortage. This will ensure that blood products remain available for the use of those most in need. This circular is relevant to all health services that transfuse blood products.


In 2008 the National Blood Authority (NBA) issued a jurisdictional endorsed NBSCP that is designed for those involved or associated with the management, supply and use of blood and blood products in Australia to coordinate a national response in the event of a domestic threat or disaster that affects the provision of a safe and adequate blood supply.

Blood transfusion is a life saving therapy supporting many aspects of health care from neonatology to geriatrics. It is incumbent upon all users to responsibly use this valuable resource that is donated through the good will of the public. The ability to meet urgent clinical need depends on there being an adequate supply of blood products readily available to those most in need.

Shortages may arise due to events (such as an influenza outbreak, bad weather or security issues) which prevent donors from coming forward to donate or due to an increase in use for patients. During these shortages it is important that Victoria implements a consistent statewide approach to ensure an equitable distribution of this valuable resource according to need.

Responsibilities and Overview

The NBSCP outlines in some detail the various responsibilities for all stakeholders in the blood supply in the event of a shortage.

The NBA has overall responsibility for activation of the plan in consultation with governments and Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS).

ARCBS is responsible for day to day management of blood inventory, they issue daily reports on stock levels to all transfusion laboratories. These reports form part of the Victorian blood management process.

Health services and other clinical stakeholders are required to have internal processes to ensure patient safety and adequacy of blood supply within their service, across the state and nationally including having an EBMP in place to activate in the event the NBSCP is activated.

Victorian Response to a significant shortage and NBSCP activation

In the event of a significant shortage and activation of the NBSCP, ARCBS implement internal plans to manage supply and communicate directly with the Laboratory Manager or Senior Scientist in charge of transfusion laboratory.  It is the responsibility of the Laboratory contact receiving that information to communicate it so that health services and pathology providers can respond in accordance with the NBSCP and their local EBMP.

In event of activation of the NBSCP at red stage, the Department of Human Services will also communicate directly with Chief Executive Officers of Victorian health services regarding the shortage.

There is information and examples of plans available to support the establishment of an EBMP by a health service and is available through the ‘Tools’ section of the Blood Matters website.

Information includes:

  • Hospital/pathology EBMP template
  • Role of the Emergency Blood management team
  • Communication and dissemination of information plan
  • Prioritisation of red blood cell transfusions
  • Surgical triage worksheet

For further information

National Blood Authority 2008, National Blood Supply Contingency Plan

Director, Statewide Quality Branch
Rural & Regional Health & Aged Care Services

Geoff Lavender 
Director, Programs
Metropolitan Health & Aged Care Services