summary To analyse the Issuable Stock Index (days worth of stock) and wastage in relation to data continuously collected by the Blood Stocks Management Scheme (BSMS) with aspects of blood inventory management practice determined by the 2006 hospital inventory practice survey (IPS). The BSMS collects blood inventory data from hospitals and blood services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Data sets were constructed from information obtained from the 2006 IPS, which included questions on the crossmatch reservation period, methods for calculating the blood order and stock share relationships between hospitals. Two of the Scheme’s measures that can indicate a hospital’s blood inventory management performance were used to present blood stock and wastage data in a comparable format. Data were analysed using the Student’s t-test. The results showed significantly lower inventory and wastage in hospitals which used a 24-h reservation period compared with 48 h (P = 0·02 and P = 0·04, respectively), and for hospitals that used their computer for calculating the blood order compared with those that used a ‘visual review’ (P = 0·02 and P ≤ 0·001, respectively). A strong correlation co-efficient (0·61) was found for a relationship between a hospital’s stock level and wastage. The study showed that differences in stock management practice between hospitals are associated with significant differences in stock levels and wastage of blood. The paper identifies examples of best practice.