The Blood Service’s Research and Development Strategy
The Finnish Red Cross carries out blood service operations in accordance with the Blood Service Act (197/2005). Under the rules of the Finnish Red Cross, the Blood Service’s duties are to assume responsibility for blood service operations in Finland under normal and exceptional circumstances; to undertake service, research and development activities related to its area of expertise; and to participate in international development work.
This research and development strategy (henceforth “research strategy”), which is derived from the Finnish Red Cross’s operating policy, outlines the Blood Service’s research and development operations. The strategy also takes into account the duty of the Red Cross to promote health globally. Under this operating policy, the Finnish Red Cross Blood Service is an important healthcare service unit that produces safe and effective blood products and laboratory services needed by hospitals for patient care, collects blood from voluntary blood donors based on the needs of patient care, and supports hospitals by providing services that support stem cell and organ transplantations. The Blood Service’s research operations bring significant added value to medical research in Finland. The scientific utilisation of nationally centralised blood service operations is part of the core duties of the Blood Service.
The Blood Service’s research and development operations are based on the following values:
- Operating in an ethically sound manner. The Blood Service’s research operations comply with the research ethics guidelines and Responsible Conduct of Research guidelines compiled by the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity (TENK) appointed by the Ministry of Education and Culture (Decree 1347/1991). Ultimately, each researcher is responsible for the ethical conduct of their research, but the Blood Service as a whole must share this responsibility and support the establishment of ethically sustainable practices.
- Being critical. Research results must be published in reputable peer‐reviewed scientific publications and exposed to public review.
- Respecting patients, voluntary blood donors, stem cell donors, and clients. The patient and the voluntary donor are at the centre of the Blood Service’s operations. Involvement by donors, patients and client organisations, as well as the resources of these stakeholders, play an important role in ensuring the effectiveness of research operations. Addressing the needs and wishes of blood donors and patients promotes a positive attitude towards research among the population and facilitates the recruitment of study subjects.
- Ensuring the effectiveness of operations. The Blood Service’s research operations generate evidencebased new data on the effectiveness of operations and services. The results of research are used for the benefit of blood donors, patients, the population and society, and they serve as the basis for decisionmaking on Blood Service operations.
The aim of the Blood Service’s research and development operations is to assess and develop the quality, safety, adequate supply and effective use of current and future products and services, and to assess and develop the effectiveness of the service chain. The work carried out also seeks to generate new data, to help the Blood Service’s experts become leaders in their field, and to promote within the Blood Service the understanding of scientific methods, the critical assessment of research materials and reports, and the application of research findings in decision‐making.
The Board of the Blood Service decides on the focus areas of research operations.
The Blood Service may implement its research strategy via its own research and development operations, in collaboration with other organisations, by means of research projects commissioned from other parties, or by supporting investigator‐driven academic research via a research fund established in the Finnish Red Cross balance sheet in accordance with the rules of this research fund.
The Blood Service annually spends approximately 5% of its turnover on research and development work consistent with its research strategy. It also applies for external funding to support its research and development work. The funding sources applied for include research grants, national and EU level research and innovation funding, and funding based on collaboration agreements.
The Blood Service’s own contribution towards its research and development expenses is financed on the basis of an action plan and a budget consistent with the Finnish Red Cross financial rules. Research expenses are recorded annually. Expenses due to development operations can be activated if they are considered to generate income over several accounting periods.