Blood services staff fuming over blame for low inventory

Photograph: A fire destroyed this  blood service mobile unit over the summer. Amid the lowest inventory levels in six years, CBS executives have decided not to replace it or the 7500 units of blood it collects annually.

A fire destroyed this blood service mobile unit over the summer. Amid the lowest inventory levels in six years, CBS executives have decided not to replace it or the 7500 units of blood it collects annually.

Canadian Blood Services is telling staff that national blood inventory levels are at their lowest since 2008.

In a memo sent out September 30, Chief Supply Chain Officer Ian Mumford calls it “a serious performance gap,” leaving an already demoralized staff to wonder if they are being blamed for poor decisions made by the organization’s executives.

CBS has been dismantling much of its infrastructure around volunteer collections in recent years, including the closures of entire facilities in Thunder Bay, Ontario and Saint John, New Brunswick in 2012.

When an Ottawa-based bloodmobile caught fire this summer, CBS thought the volumes generated by it were insignificant and chose not to use the insurance to replace it. That blood mobile collected 7500 units a year.

Another mobile truck that could generate similar volumes has been sitting idle in an Ottawa yard for most of the year.

When appeals are issued, the call center staff in Sudbury are usually swamped. We’re told the phones ring off the hook and there are too few staff to answer all of these calls. That too has an impact on inventory — but that’s not all.

Many clinic boundaries were arbitrarily changed to CBS’ convenience, not to those of the regular donors. That has also taken people out of donation patterns that have existed in some cases for decades.

When representatives of CBS employees arrived for a national meeting in Toronto in 2012, CBS was candid that the future involved fewer workers – an admission that the organization is scaling down its capacity.

When CBS participated in an invitation-only roundtable by Health Canada to look at the paid plasma issue, they didn’t think the impact on their collections would be significant should the private for-profit Canadian Plasma Resources set up shop across the country.  Yet their own estimate of the impact was an 8 per cent loss in donor volume.

Every time an objection is raised to what appears to be the deliberate vandalism of the collections system, CBS tells the media that they have surplus supply. Except, as it turns out, they don’t.

Mumford says the present appeal to donors “is not a measure of our success, but a measure of our failure to do our job,” he writes. “We are failing to meet our commitment to Canadians, to patients, to our funders, and to our hospital customers.”

Those are very strong words and ones the provincial stakeholders should take note.

Self-sufficiency in blood and blood products was supposed to be our national goal. The World Health Assembly resolution (WHA63.12) urges all Member States (including Canada) to develop national blood systems based on voluntary non-remunerated blood donation and work towards the goal of self-sufficiency.

Instead CBS appears to be moving further away from those goals.

The tone of Mumford’s memo is the kind of script that usually ends with someone resigning their position.

It’s time for CBS to stop downsizing, to take the initiative on making Canada more self-sufficient, and to take seriously their responsibility to ensure both the quality and security of the blood supply. That includes telling Health Canada that CPR poses real risks to that supply.

As a key stakeholder and funder of Canadian Blood Services, Ontario shouldn’t take this passively. If CBS has failed on the scale Mumford claims has happened, then the CBS board owes all Canadians an obligation to change leadership.

Tickets are still available in many locations for Moyo Theatre’s “Tainted” tour of Ontario. The tour is intended to draw attention to threats to the safety and security of Ontario’s blood system, including plans by a private for-profit company to operate paid plasma sites across Canada.

11 responses to “Blood services staff fuming over blame for low inventory

  1. I believe that CBS does, in fact, have a plan and it is turning the collection of blood over to the private, for-profit sector. It is the only thing that could possibly justify anything CBS has done since Graham Sher took over.

    I represent CBS workers in NS and PEI and there are repeated reorganizations that inconvenience donors and staff and drive staff out.

  2. then allow EVERYONE to give blood gay or not shouldn’t matter if you have a partner or not.If the supply is low allow everyone dumb asses

    • CBS does not care if you are gay or not. There are high risk groups in the worlds population that statistically have a higher chance of contracting transmisable diseases. Gay woman can donate, So get your facts right! CBS has strict criteria for donors to keep the blood supply safe for patients that blood products are being transfused to. Donor rejection has Nothing to do with anyone’s sexual orientation.

  3. I worked at Canadian Blood Services for over 10 years. We saw so many changes from our organization structure down to at least 3 changes in uniform policy. They implemented an “appointment” system for a voluntary procedure and then changed that every 6 months or so. They keep changing staff functions and responsibilities so that what you were originally hired for is more of an extension of said duties. Our union (OPSEU) is more or less powerless in their ability to stop this and our only recourse is to file grievances. These grievances take a year or more to come to arbitration or longer. In that time, the company carries out its own rules even if they are forbidden in our contract. We have drivers carrying out clinic duties and appointment greeters doing phlebotomy from a very poorly installed program loosely based on an arbitrary college. You never see your marks or how your graded and you can be passed on how well you are liked by the training staff. I have seen people with absolutely no clinic experience and no skill whatsoever in doing phlebotomy pass because their “friends” with management. I have also witnessed unqualified and unprofessional charge nurses and supervisors running our clinics, putting staff on edge, calling them out, berating and humiliating staff. When staff report these incidents absolutely no action is taken. I have witnessed at least 2 and possibly more staff fired for no cause but were “paid out” to shut up and go away. CBS cares nothing for their employees. This is proven time and time again whenever an issue like this comes up. They need a scapegoat and will throw as many staff under a bus as they can and as for the rest, they’ll have to throw money at them. …

  4. I am a long term donor. I am also by no means a supporter of organized public sector labour and tend to vote for right leaning parties. However this particular situation is 100% the fault of CBS management. Beyond what is mentioned in this article they have gone to lengths to reduce recognition of donors, those who take time out of their lives to come in every two months to be stuck with a needle. They have cut hours for donation clinics making it harder to donate. They have outright rejected donors of certain blood types.

    This problem was created by poor management. Why? I can only guess that the reason is an attempt to extract more money from our provincial governments/taxpayers who fund them rather than cost effectively providing the service they exist to provide.

  5. I just read Mr. Mumford’s email to the staff… I can honestly say I’ve never felt so belittled in my 5 years working here. How is this a performance gap on CBS as a whole? Seems like they’re pushing the blame down on the front line staff and It would be nice if the bigger wallets took the blame for once. Should more employees kicked and screamed when exec’s would announce yet another clinic closure? When they’ve eliminated positions for the budget?
    I attended the national meeting in 2012 in Toronto and boy, I’d love to have another with the guest of honour present once again.
    This makes me so sad, and truly disappointed in our so called leaders.

  6. Demoralized CBS Employee

    It’s in you to Give, lol! The catch phrase implies that it is talking about your blood, but in reality is so much more than that. This company is exploiting (taking) your tax dollars, your actual time and your blood & can’t even give you any appreciation in doing so, employees are included in this as well. As tax payer dollars are absobed by head office bank roles and un-nessesary expendatures we sit and watch everything fall apart from the inside. Materials are getting cheaper, jobs are being cut we have a CEO who tells us one thing, but means another. To me it looks as if we are caught in a dictatorship and the peoples running the organization from the top are only looking at bigger bank roles for themselves as they continue to crush employee moral/spirits and ignore all that thier employees bring to the table. I’ve never worked in such a controlled environment & by controlled I mean it! Finally for the first time the union has stepped up as well, we have been waiting for some sort of a backbone from the union but I’ve always thought that there were deals happening between CBS and the Union anyways. Well, with how long they have ignored our pleas for help against these tyrants. Hopefully they prove me wrong and can get Graham and Ian out the door. I would do Graham’s job for a quarter of what he makes and actually do it with compassion and the desire to make it the best organization ever, because this company does not know the word compassion & seems to have no plans except benefiting the top tier.

    • Frustrated at Work

      I completely agree. I, too am a VERY Demoralized CBS employee. I can concur that the morale at our site is very, VERY low and management does whatever it can to make it worse. I have never heard one person from management ever say “good job” or “way to go” All we ever hear is how bad and wrong things are. And when we make suggestions on ways to make things better, we again get told “you can’t do that” or “because it’s not in the SOP” I am at the point where I want to quit and find somewhere to work that actually appreciates the work that I do, which is the feeling of a lot of other staff as well which is a total shame, because it could be a great place to work. So on top of just our local management problems, we now have to hear from the big-wigs how we are doing such a poor job. And what’s more confusing is that one CEO is saying the blood shortage is due to donors not keeping appointments and then the other is saying it’s staff performance issues?? These are the people who so brilliantly decided to 1) not get the bloodmobile back up and running during the blood shortage 2) put out an urgent call for donors to come in, but won’t bring on extra staff to help with the increased numbers, so the donors have told us they are angry because of the long wait times 3) won’t lift that STUPID MSM policy which limits the number of donors we could have during this “Urgent call for donors” We all know that the scientific facts and new testing methods have proven that there is now no longer a need to have the MSM policy in place. So I ask, who’s performance is really in question here. The VERY hard working front line staff, or the high priced upper management and CEO’s????

  7. I return to a position I have held for more than a decade – CBS’s plans have all been about making the service fail so privatization can be justified. It’s very likely CBS is now in the last stages of its plan and we could see the promotion of the private, for-profit model before the next federal election. Getting Sher and Mumford out is only the start, but who will do that. After all this time it can only be logically concluded that the CBS Board is in on the plan or is incredibly naive and incompetent to run the organization.

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