Nurses and midwives who collect umbilical cord blood at birth will have to undertake specialist training, according to new rules announced by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) yesterday.
Regulating the collection of cord blood for the first time in the UK, the HTA said that from July 5 2008 collection can only be carried out by trained specialists on approved premises.
All maternity units that collect the blood will require an HTA license, and systems will also have to be in place to ensure samples can be traceable from collection to any use in treatments.
Umbilical cord blood contains valuable stem cells and is stored at public or private banks for potential medical procedures, including the treatment of leukaemia.
Adrian McNeil, chief executive of the HTA, said: ‘We are introducing this regulation to make sure that the best quality samples are taken in the safest way.
‘The worry is that if inexperienced people are involved, this will not be done at the right time and in the right way. The result is that the best samples may not be collected.
‘It is also important for the midwife to be allowed to concentrate on the welfare of the mother and child,’ he added.