The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pay dearly for a drop of blood

After the hospital bill, it’s time for the tag on a blood pouch to wear a more a forbidding look.

The move to hike the price of blood supplied through all government-run blood banks has entered the last lap, with a detailed report to be submitted by the Institute of Blood Transfusion Medicine and Immunohaematology to the director of health services on Monday.

The institute — earlier known as the central blood bank — is learnt to have recommended a jump from Rs 175 to Rs 400 for each unit of blood. The cost to the consumer not carrying a donor card could come to Rs 475, inclusive of service and other charges.

The new rates are expected to come into effect either from mid-December or from January 1.

The Institute, which is the nodal agency for all government-run blood banks in the state, will, however, supply blood free to patients undergoing treatment in the free beds of government hospitals.

Health department sources said they had received complaints about several nursing homes and private hospitals buying blood from government-run units and then charging exorbitant rates from their patients. “A number of private blood banks in the city charge Rs 600 for each unit. So, nursing homes prefer to buy blood from government centres. We supply about 400 units of blood on an average every day and around 51 per cent of that is picked up by nursing homes and private hospitals,” said a senior official of the state health department.

According to an estimate prepared by experts of the Institute, 96,000 units of blood were collected last year, at an approximate cost of Rs 400 per unit. “We have been selling at Rs 175, which translates into a government subsidy of Rs 225 for each unit of blood. We will not require any subsidy once the rate is revised,” said the official.

The Institute is, in fact, looking at annual profits of around Rs 2 crore by selling blood at a higher rate. “We have urged the state government to sanction us Rs 1 crore from the profits, which we will then invest for development of our institute. The health minister and senior health department officials have agreed, in principle, to give us this development fund,” the official added.

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