South West Peninsular Transplant Service

The South West Peninsula Transplant service is believed to be unique, it has three clinical sites, two collection facilities and a stand-alone, non-NHS commercial processing & storage facility, Biovault Technical Ltd (Biovault).

The Service’s two collection sites, Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital and Truro’s Treliske Hospital, are fifty five miles apart, each having a clinical facility. The third clinical facility, Torbay Hospital, is a further 35 miles to the east of Plymouth. Derriford Hospital is the central hub, reinfusion centre, and clinical site for allografts. The processing and storage facility at Biovault is located ½ a mile away from Derriford Hospital. Processing is conducted there by an NHS Specialist BMS team. The Service serves an area of 3966 square miles, providing autologous, sibling allogeneic and matched unrelated peripheral blood stem cell transplants.

In 2005 it became obvious that the bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell processing and storage facility located in Derriford’s laboratories was struggling for space and maintaining compliance with the regulations. The solution was to partner with Biovault, a private tissue bank, which began in 2006. Specialist Biomedical Scientists from Derriford Hospital process the cellular products in Biovault’s state of the art laboratories. Although it took some work in the early days, the partnership has now grown in strength. In 2011 Biovault became the first private tissue bank in Europe to be JACIE accredited followed in 2012 by the remainder of the South West Peninsula Transplant Service achieving accreditation as well.

Both Biovault and the NHS arm of the partnership hold Human Tissue Authority Licences for Tissues for Human Application in compliance with the Human Tissue (Quality and Safety for Human Application) Regulations 2007.

Regular quality meetings are held at Plymouth which all stakeholders attend, the team also meet annually at Truro and Torbay to review facilities and share best practices. The Quality Managers at Derriford and Biovault have developed a strong relationship based on sharing of expertise and knowledge which has helped develop the partnership.

Read what Rob Wosley, the Governance & Quality Manager for Haematology, Immunology & Oncology Services, has to say about the South West Peninsular Transplant Service; “The geographical challenges faced by the hospitals in the South West Peninsula Transplant Service have created a unique opportunity for the public and private sector to work together for the benefit of patients with haematological malignancies.

“Biovault provide the only Tissue Bank west of Bristol with the facilities needed for this critical process in the fight against blood cancers. Since 2006 the Service has seen an unprecedented increase in workload thanks in part to the robustness of the working relationship with Biovault. In the last five years I have seen that robustness increase and, by open communication and sharing of best practice and expertise, everyone involved has benefitted. Because of their facilities and their clear commitment to Quality, Biovault have achieved JACIE accreditation and hold a licence from the Human Tissue Authority.

“Without these we would not be able to work with them, which would place a significant burden on the NHS both financially and in terms of timescales for cells to be processed and stored in Bristol or even further afield. This success has also meant JACIE accreditation for the three hospitals involved, which has enabled NHS England to commission more complex work at Derriford.

“We can now provide Matched Unrelated Donor transplants to our patients as a result. This has increased our patient numbers, enabled our Trusts to invest in the facilities we provide and, crucially, removed the need for patients to travel to Bristol or London for treatment, which in itself is life-changing. Biovault and the teams at each hospital have the patient at the heart of what we do and I am proud to be part of this Service.”

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