Blood, plasma and platelet donors urged to stick to appointments to help NHS as first full week of second lockdown begins

10 November 2020

Blood, plasma and platelet donors in England are being urged to stick to their appointment over the next month, as NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) issues a crucial reminder that giving blood is allowed and considered to be essential travel that helps to provide medical care as first full week of second national lockdown begins.

Fit and well blood donors are asked to keep giving as normal during lockdown, to build strong blood stocks this winter and help hospitals through a second wave of Covid-19 alongside the many other pressures winter places on the NHS.

Safety is always a major concern for donors and is the top priority for NHS Blood and Transplant. A new survey by Kantar has found that Covid-19 is contributing to these safety concerns, with one in five (19%) of the population believing it is unsafe to donate during this pandemic. (1) 

There was a sharp rise in missed appointments as the last lockdown began, with as many as 22% of donors not attending. It took four weeks before attendance rates returned to normal. City centre venues were particularly affected by non-attendances. (2)

It’s vital donors continue to donate because the need for blood never stops. Extra safety measures are in place at sessions and these will be more widely promoted during the lockdown so that donors continue to feel safe to attend and give blood and a similar dip in attendance rates is avoided this time.

Su Brailsford, Associate Medical Director at NHS Blood and Transplant explains: “It’s vital for patient care over the winter months that donors keep attending sessions. We recognise that in order to do this they want to feel safe and that is why safety is our top priority.

“Giving blood now is as safe as it’s always been and all sessions are Covid-secure. No one with symptoms can come inside because of triaging on arrival and inside donors are spaced apart, and wear face coverings to avoid asymptomatic people spreading the virus. On the whole donors tell us these new steps put them at ease.

“We’ve seen a fantastic response from donors so far in the pandemic and thanks to their generally high rates of attendance blood stocks have remained good. These next few weeks and months will be critical for hospitals and it’s vital people know that our doors remain open as normal and that travelling to donate is essential travel because it helps the NHS. Blood donation is one of the ways you can help the NHS at this time.”

Our safety measures

NHS Blood and Transplant constantly reviews safety measures to keep up with the latest scientific advice and government guidelines. Extra safety measures on session include triaging all donors with a temperature check on arrival. Hand gels and washing facilities are available, donors are spaced apart, staff are doing extra cleaning and staff and donors must wear face coverings. During this latest lockdown there will be a greater focus on the promotion of these safety measures on the blood donation website and across social media and radio advertising.

Many donors say they give blood during the pandemic because they want to help the NHS and play their part. In the first lockdown some people spoke about blood donation becoming the highlight of their week and a very good reason to get out of the house and do something positive.

The need for blood and plasma

Hospitals need blood for routine operations, saving accident victims and treating patients with serious illnesses like cancer. Each donation can save or improve up to three lives.

The NHS is also collecting blood plasma from people who’ve had Covid-19 – particularly men and people who were hospitalised with the virus – for a world-leading trial to see if the antibodies in the plasma could save the lives of people who still have the disease. Travelling to donate at one of NHSBT’s plasma donation venues is also is also allowed within lockdown restrictions.

Donors are reminded to follow all relevant Government transport guidance when making a journey to give blood.

As well as sticking to existing appointments, donors can also help the NHS during lockdown by booking to donate at city centre venues to fill last minute slots which are widely available.

You can find out more about donating blood during the pandemic by reading our coronavirus advice or calling 0300 123 23 23.

You can register your interest in donating blood plasma by completing our online form.


  1. Survey carried out by Kantar/Research Express among a representative sample of 2,177 adults in England aged 16+ during 20-26 October 2020.
  2. Appointment keeping rates dropped about a week before formal lockdown started in March to 78% and lasted about four weeks before returning to slightly higher than-normal rates at around 90%. Normal rates of appointment keeping in the last two years have been consistent at between 85 to 92%, except for when the Beast from the East storm struck.