Key messages

  • The successful reduction of blood and blood product waste in Victoria is an outcome of collaboration among the Victorian health and pathology services.
  • The National Blood Authority wastage reduction strategy, the National Stewardship statement and the Australian Commission of Safety and Quality in Healthcare National Standards underpin the red blood cell wastage project.
  • Key methods for reducing waste include inventory management, timely movement of red blood cells between health services and implementation of electronic cross-matching methods where they do not yet exist.
  • Minimisation of unnecessary waste of blood and blood products is vital to ensure supply demands can be readily met. Victorian red blood cell wastage figures from 2013-14 indicated the need to reduce the amount of blood and blood products wasted in Victorian hospitals and health services. 
  • The Blood Matters red blood cell wastage project is supported by the National Blood Authority wastage reduction strategy 2013-17, the Australian Health Ministers Conference (2010) National Stewardship statement and the Australian Commission of Safety and Quality in Healthcare National Standards. 

'STOP the Waste' festive season campaign

Over previous years Victoria's red blood cell wastage has spiked in January and February. Now is the time to put plans in place to stop the January/February WASTE spike!

To assist health services 'STOP the waste' over the festive season Blood Matters have compiled a checklist that will help identify planned variations in practice over this period. If you require any further information about 'STOP the waste' please contact Blood Matters.

The festive season shutdown checklist is available for download below.

“Stop the waste” infographic available to download below

National and state wastage 2013-14

The table below outlines national and state red blood cell (RBC) wastage data (July 2013 to June 2014) in absolute terms as well as percentages.


State (Vic.)

Units issued (per cent)


191,850 (27%)

Units wasted (per cent)

37,264 (5.2%)

11,746 (6.1%)

Wastage project initiation

The RBC wastage figures above confirmed the need for Victoria to undertake targeted activities to reduce waste.

National 2014-15 targets were set by the government at three to five per cent depending on the size of the pathology provider. 2015-16 targets were 2.5-4 per cent and 2016-17 targets were set at 2-3 per cent. The target for RBC wastage in Victoria remains at 2-3 per cent for 2019-20.

National and state wastage 2014 to present

Red cell wastage figures

If you are unable to view the below graph, this data is also available in a tabular format.

RBC wastage: Victoria and National data August 2014 - October 2018Victoria National Jan-15Jan-16Jan-17Jan-18Sep-18.00%1.00%2.00%3.00%4.00%5.00%6.00%MonthPercentage
RBC wastage: Victoria and National data August 2014 - October 2018 Victoria National
Aug-14 4.70% 4.20%
Sep-14 4.00% 3.70%
Oct-14 4.90% 4.40%
Nov-14 4.30% 3.90%
Dec-14 4.90% 4.40%
Jan-15 5.50% 5.10%
Feb-15 4.80% 4.10%
Mar-15 5.10% 4.20%
Apr-15 4.10% 3.90%
May-15 3.90% 3.60%
Jun-15 3.70% 3.50%
Jul-15 3.30% 3.00%
Aug-15 3.20% 3.10%
Sep-15 3.30% 3.00%
Oct-15 3.10% 2.80%
Nov-15 3.50% 2.90%
Dec-15 3.50% 3.00%
Jan-16 4.10% 3.70%
Feb-16 3.60% 3.00%
Mar-16 2.80% 2.80%
Apr-16 2.60% 2.80%
May-16 2.50% 2.40%
Jun-16 2.40% 2.50%
Jul-16 2.00% 2.30%
Aug-16 2.20% 2.80%
Sep-16 1.90% 2.20%
Oct-16 2.00% 2.30%
Nov-16 1.90% 2.40%
Dec-16 2.10% 2.20%
Jan-17 1.80% 2.60%
Feb-17 2.20% 2.50%
Mar-17 2.20% 2.50%
Apr-17 2.20% 2.60%
May-17 2.30% 2.20%
Jun-17 2.10% 2.30%
Jul-17 2.10% 2.30%
Aug-17 2.40% 2.30%
Sep-17 2.10% 2.20%
Oct-17 1.70% 2.20%
Nov-17 2.10% 2.30%
Dec-17 2.20% 2.40%
Jan-18 2.10% 2.70%
Feb-18 1.70% 2.50%
Mar-18 2.20% 2.40%
Apr-18 1.80% 2.60%
May-18 1.60% 2.00%
Jun-18 1.90% 1.90%
Jul-18 1.60% 1.70%
Aug-18 1.70% 1.90%
Sep-18 1.90% 2.10%
Oct-18 1.80% 2.20%

Victorian red cell waste has reduced significantly since 2014 and has been consistently lower than national wastage rates. This success is an outcome of collaboration between, engagement and support of Victorian health and pathology services. The previous month has seen our wastage increase slightly above national average. This is a reminder that constant vigilance is required to ensure that our donor's precious gift is not wasted.

Waste reduction strategies

The following principles and approaches have been identified as crucial to the continued reduction of blood and blood product waste in Victoria:

  • effective inventory management is paramount to reduce expiry-related waste
  • sharing blood fridge compliance data between health services and pathology providers is essential
  • compliance with the BloodNet fridge module for blood fridge data recording
  • timely movement of red cells between health services to ensure units can be transfused before expiry
  • reducing the period of time blood may be kept following a crossmatch
  • compliance with correct transportation methods for red cell units
  • increasing the use of visual prompts in blood fridges, for example regarding short expiry dates
  • statewide implementation of electronic crossmatching methods
  • simplifying procedures, production of and compliance with a maximum blood ordering schedule (MBOS)
  • ongoing collaboration between health and pathology services.


The Blood Matters Program would like to acknowledge everyone who has contributed to the success of the project so far:

  • health and pathology services throughout Victoria
  • Commonwealth Government of Australia
  • Australian Red Cross Lifeblood     
  • South Australian Blood Moves project
  • BloodSafe
  • the National Blood Authority.

Some of these strategies are guided by the South Australian Blood Moves project and the NBA Managing blood and blood product inventory.


National Blood Authority (2013) Wastage reduction strategy 2013-17

Australian Health Ministers’ Conference (2010) Statement on National Stewardship Expectations for the Supply of Blood and Blood Products

Australian Commission of Safety and Quality in Healthcare (2012)

National Blood Authority (2014) Managing Blood and Blood Product Inventory

Contact details