NHS responds after potential Sussex blood donors criticise appointments system

Health bosses from NHS Blood and Transplant have responded after potential blood donors said they struggled to get appointments.

Blood Donor Centre
Blood Donor Centre

Figures released on June 8 showed there was a ‘stark reduction’ in the number of donors giving blood across Sussex, which could be critical for those having life-saving procedures.

It was revealed 40 per cent fewer new volunteers came forward a to give blood last year compared to a decade ago.

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To mark the start of National Blood Week (8-14 June 2015), NHS Blood and Transplant has explained that 204,000 new volunteers need to come forward this year to keep the nation’s blood stocks at a safe level for the future.

However, our readers across Sussex responded to the story saying they were struggling to get appointments.

One reader said: “More of us would love to give blood but just cannot get appointments and who wants to walk in only to be told there is an hour and a half wait! The whole thing needs rethinking!”

Jon Latham, assistant director of donor services and marketing, NHS Blood and Transplant has responded to readers’ comments.

“We are sorry to hear some readers have felt frustrated by recent attempts to donate blood. We want every donor to have a positive experience of donation,” he said.

“This National Blood Week we are raising awareness of blood donation, and, in particular, a drop in numbers of new volunteers across England and North Wales.

“While we can meet the needs of patients who need blood now, we need to ensure we strengthen our donor base for the future.

”We have had a fantastic response to our campaign so far, but because our donation session programme is carefully designed to meet patient need, we would ask anyone who would like to donate to bear with us if they are not able to get an appointment straight away.

“Our donation sessions are planned so we collect the right amount of blood at the right time and don’t waste volunteers’ precious donations.

“We always aim to complete someone’s donation within an hour or their appointment time as we know people lead very busy lives. While we do welcome walk-in donors into our sessions we can’t predict how many will walk in.

“This means we can’t guarantee there will always be space to accommodate them or they may need to wait a little longer.

“Changes in clinical practice have meant that across the country, and globally, there is a reduced need for blood and we have needed to make some changes to when and where we collect blood - either by visiting a place less often, changing opening times of sessions or asking people to donate at another nearby venue.

“While we understand donors would love us to be in every village, town and city, this would not be an efficient way to collect blood. By holding greater numbers of donation sessions at larger venues, rather than at smaller sessions or using bloodmobiles, more people can donate each time.

“We hope donors understand that as an NHS service we have a duty to balance collecting the right amount of blood with offering a convenient service to donors.

“The more efficient we can be, the more savings we can make available for hospitals to use on frontline care.”

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