Blood and platelet donors asked to help rebuild blood stocks hit by the bad weather

Tuesday, 06 Mar 2018

Blood and platelet donors are being asked to continue to help rebuild stocks hit by the severe weather by giving blood at donor centres in towns and cities.

It could take weeks for NHS Blood and Transplant to recover the blood needed to get stocks back on an even keel. So, existing donors of all blood groups are being asked to walk in to one of the fixed site donor centres or to book an appointment at www.blood.co.uk. We have added extra appointments to some of our existing sessions throughout March and are also planning to put on extra sessions where we can to help boost stock levels. 

Please visit our new appointments page to find out where the extra sessions are.

The need for blood is constant. Because of recent freezing weather and snow, many people have not been able to donate. The bad weather has also led to some sessions being cancelled. This has meant we have not been able to collect as much blood as planned. Hospitals need 6000 units every day across England to treat patients in need.  

We are also asking A+ and A- platelet donors who have booked appointments to do all they can to keep them if safe and possible to do so. Platelets only have a shelf life of 7 days so it’s vital that stocks are replenished on a daily basis across the country to meet the demand from hospitals. Any platelet donors who don’t have an appointment are being urged to come along to a fixed site donor centre and give as soon as they are able.

We are asking donors to walk in to donate, without the need to make an appointment in fixed site donor centres. These centres are more likely to be open at the weekend and are mostly situated in city centres so easier for people to get to. NHS Blood and Transplant has 23 donor centres across England.

Donors who are not near a static donor centre are being asked to book an appointment at blood.co.uk

All donors are welcome, but we are particularly appealing to those who have donated before as their blood group is already known. We can therefore make sure we collect enough of each blood group to ensure stocks pick up. It will take time to recover stocks so we are urging donors who cannot travel to make an appointment over the next two weeks at blood.co.uk

Mike Stredder, NHS Blood and Transplant Director of Blood Donation said: “The recent poor weather caused the cancellation of sessions in snow hit areas and meant we collected less blood than we needed, particularly Group A, Group O and B positive donations.

"Because of the bad weather we failed to collect around a days’ worth of stock and it will take us some time to recover this. That is why we are putting on extra sessions and opening our centres for longer so we can encourage those who can give blood or platelets to just turn up and donate. 

“Seriously ill patients need blood every day and they rely on the generosity of people making time to donate.

“So, we are appealing for existing donors to come along to a session and donate if they are able. If not then please book an appointment for the near future to ensure we keep up the momentum and collect enough blood to meet the needs of patients. Please take action now and walk in and donate – you will save lives.”

• You can get more information by calling the Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23 or visiting www.blood.co.uk 

Ends

  • For additional information please contact the NHSBT Press Office on 01923 367600 or email pressoffice@nhsbt.nhs.uk
  • For urgent out of hours enquiries please call 0117 969 2444

Notes to editors

  • NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. We are responsible for ensuring a safe and efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England. We are also the organ donation organisation for the UK and are responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.
  • We are an essential part of the NHS and take pride in saving and improving lives by making the most of every voluntary donation, from blood and organs to tissues and stem cells.
  • Our work would not be possible without our donors - ordinary people doing extraordinary things by saving and improving the lives of others.
  • To find out more visit: www.nhsbt.nhs.uk
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  • Blood donors can search for sessions, book appointments, change/cancel their appointments and change their contact details in real time at blood.co.uk
  • There are apps available for Android, Windows and Apple Smartphone and tablet devices which enable donors to search for sessions based on their location and book and manage appointments.
  • Our donor line - 0300 123 23 23 - is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week with all calls charged at the standard local rate, even from mobile phones
  • NHS Blood and Transplant needs to collect 1.5 million units of blood each year to meet the needs of patients across England. It’s important that we collect the right amount of each blood group at the right time to meet patient needs. 
  • There are four main blood groups – O, A, B and AB. Group O is the most common and therefore the most in demand. A regular supply of blood is vital – red cells last 35 days and platelets only 7 days 
  • The overall demand for blood is falling by 3-4% per year.  This is due to improvements in clinical practice and is a trend that is being seen around the world. The drop in demand for blood is also thanks to our work with hospitals to ensure blood is used appropriately for patients.
  • We need nearly 200,000 new blood donors each year to replace those who no longer donate for reasons such as ill health, pregnancy or foreign travel and to ensure we have the right mix of blood groups to match patient needs in the future
  • Some blood groups, such as O negative (the universal blood group), A negative and B negative are particularly vulnerable to shortfalls. So we want people with those blood groups to donate as regularly as they can.  We also need more black African, black Caribbean, mixed race and South Asian people to become blood donors to reflect the ethnic diversity of patients
  • Female whole blood donors can give blood every 16 weeks, while male blood donors must wait 12 weeks between donations. Platelets can be donated every 2 weeks.
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