Following recent reports that Germany is facing its own fears of BSE contamination, with the revelation that several cows are infected, questions are being asked over the safety of donated blood that leaves the country for use in foreign hospitals.

Haemophiliacs from the North-East of England have requested that doctors suspend treatments with German blood because it may be infected with the fatal human virus vCJD. Health bosses are refusing however to change their treatment from the human-derived Factor 8 blood to a synthetic, or recombinant, alternative.

A spokesman from the department of health maintained that it was up to individual consultants to prescribe what they feel is appropriate treatment, but medical director Dr Mike Laker understood that a circular from the government said that the recombinant product should only be used for people with HIV or the hepatitis C virus.

It seems that expense is the prevalent factor. The department of health spokesman claimed that it would cost between £30-40m to give the recombinant product to all the haemophiliacs in England. While the blood from Germany is believed to be safe, he continued, the situation is being kept under review.