THE NHS has announced it is pressing ahead with plans to close the Brentwood blood donor centre.

A decision over the Crescent Drive centre’s future was made by the NHS Blood and Transplant board last week.

The popular centre is likely to close early next year.

It comes after a board of Government scientists said that platelets - which are donated to new born babies, cancer patients and those with complex illnesses - made from whole blood are just as safe as those donated by component donation, a process that specifically extracts platelets from whole blood using a cell separation machine and which the Brentwood centre specialised in.

Jane Pearson, Assistant Director Blood Donation Operations and Nursing at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “It is important to stress that this has been one of the most challenging decisions I have ever had to make but, as a publicly funded organisation, we are acutely aware that every penny we save, is another penny which could go towards patient care.”

It had initially been proposed to move the centre to another site in Brentwood at an estimated cost of around £1million.

But following the new advice from scientists, the board decided to close the centre altogether, saving on the centre’s yearly running costs of £325,000 and on the £1million relocation cost.

The NHS said it was “working closely with staff who will be affected by the decision to secure the very best possible outcome for them”.