We need O negative donors
Low blood supplies mean O negative donors are getting priority appointments. If you are O negative please call 0300 123 23 23. You can also walk in and donate at our permanent donor centres (except Plymouth, Bradford, London West End and Newcastle) without needing to make an appointment.
If we don’t collect enough O negative blood donations in the coming weeks, stocks may fall below 2 days. See donor centres with the most available appointments.
Please don't forget your blood appointment even when you're out enjoying the recent good weather. Sunshine is causing a drop in attendance. If you can’t keep your appointment do let us know as soon as possible so we don’t lose out on collecting lifesaving blood donations.
We have thousands of bookable appointments, many of which are at our permanent donor centres. Please see below for those with the greatest number of appointments available this week.
We aim to have 6 days of blood at any time but we currently only have around 2 days' stock of O negative.
We urgently need O negative and B negative donors to come forward to make sure we can continue supplying hospitals with the blood patients need, or there is a worry that stock will fall below two days.
Hospitals across England need more than 6,000 blood donations every day to treat patients in emergency situations or with ongoing treatment for things like blood disorders or cancers.
O negative is the ‘universal’ blood group and is often used when a patient’s blood type is not known, like in emergency situations.
Also, O negative is increasingly being used as an emergency substitute for Ro blood because we don’t have enough Ro blood to meet demand. This rare subtype is more common in black people, but most people don’t know they have this subtype until they donate and there is a huge shortage of Ro blood donors.
B negative stocks are low also because many patients with serious blood disorders need B negative blood. Only 2% of donors are B negative and it is a blood group more common in black people.
Currently, there are 15,000 people living with Sickle Cell disease in the UK, and over 300 new babies born each year with the condition. These patients rely on B negative or Ro blood to help treat their condition.
As a proportion, the amount of O negative blood being issued has been increasing year on year, driven particularly over the last couple of years by the demand for Ro blood. We also have spikes at certain times due to hospitals stocking up ahead of a bank holiday etc but it is the long-term trend that is causing the challenge.
Yes, if you are O negative most of our permanent donor centres are accepting walk-in donors who have no appointment. O negative donors can walk in to any of our permanent donor centres, except Plymouth, Bradford, London West End and Newcastle.
We prioritise donors based on their blood group so we can make sure stocks don’t drop to vulnerable levels. We’re prioritising O negative and B negative donors at the moment, to make sure we collect as much as possible. We need blood from all groups, but at the moment we need to make sure stocks of O negative and B negative don’t fall any further.
You say there are added appointments, but I can't get one. Why?
If you’ve never donated before you may not be able to see an available appointment in the next few days. This is because our stocks are low and we are prioritising regular donors. They are more likely to be able to donate for sure and we already know if they have a blood group which has particularly low stocks. We do need new donors, particularly if you know you are O negative or B negative and if you can’t get an appointment now, please call 0300 123 23 23 and ask for a priority appointment or make one for a date in a few days or weeks – we will need you in the future to start saving lives.
Up to 25% of appointments can be cancelled at the last minute so please do keep checking online up to the day before the session you want to attend to try to book any appointments that come free.
If you can attend one of our donor centres, please check their opening hours and book an appointment for today or walk in if you are O negative or B negative blood group.
Appointment availability also varies around the country. Our donation sessions held in community venues such as church halls are often more than 85% full. We usually have more appointments available in most of our permanent donor centres, with only 65% of appointments filled at any one time.
I walked in to a session, but had to wait ages. Why?
Some blood groups are much lower than others, and we need to prioritise donors based on their blood group so we can make up the shortfall. We’re prioritising O negative and B negative donors at the moment, to make sure we collect as much as possible.
We’re sorry for any delays caused – we will still need other blood groups and we will try and collect your donation as quickly as we can.
You have closed the session nearest to me so how am I supposed to help out?
We have closed some sessions over the last few years because the long term trend is for hospitals to use slightly less blood each year. This is because they are better at knowing when to transfuse patients and also have new techniques such as keyhole surgery. We appreciate that has meant some people, especially in rural areas, are not able to easily travel to a session when there is a short term problem such as bad weather. However, we have made sure we have enough appointments available at the sessions we retain. We’re grateful to everyone who offers help.
You say you need more donors, but you also say demand is dropping. Which is true?
Both are true. The longer term trend is for hospitals to use less blood. This means we need to collect 3-4% less blood overall each year. However we still need to collect a huge amount– around 6,000 donations a day – and blood still saves lives. Nearly 200,000 people stop donating every year for reasons such as poor health or pregnancy and we still need to replace those donors, which means we need nearly 200,000 new donors a year.
In the shorter term, blood can only be stored for 35 days, which means there is a constant need for donations. Stock can also be affected by temporary problems such as bad weather. At the moment we have low stock levels and we urgently need donations, particularly from those who are O negative or B negative. Please donate if you can, especially if you are a regular donor who is O negative or B negative, or you have not donated before, but know you have one of these blood groups.