New blood donors in decline: 40% fewer new blood donors in 2014/5 than 2004/5

Friday 5th June 2015: In advance of National Blood Week (8-14 June 2015), NHS Blood and Transplant has revealed that 40% fewer new volunteers came forward across England and North Wales to give blood last year compared to a decade ago.

5 June 2015

204,000 new volunteers need to come forward this year to keep the nation’s blood stocks at a safe level for the future.

Friday 5 June 2015: In advance of National Blood Week (8-14 June 2015), NHS Blood and Transplant has revealed that 40% fewer new volunteers came forward across England and North Wales to give blood last year compared to a decade ago.

120,000 less people attended a donor session to start donating blood in 2014/15 compared to 2004/5. Regular donations are crucial to saving and improving the lives of patients with cancer, blood disorders and those suffering medical trauma or undergoing surgery.

NHS Blood and Transplant has been working with partners including retailers and brands, media and celebrities such as Waterstones, NOW TV, Green & Black’s and Odeon Cinema to promote blood donation. They have been removing the letters A, O and B (the letters that make up the blood groups) from their names, raising awareness of the need for new blood donors with all blood types.

This ‘Missing Type’ campaign highlights that if not enough new people donate blood and these ‘types’ were to go missing in years to come, there wouldn’t be enough blood available when patients need it.

NHS Blood and Transplant needs new donors to fill the gaps left by existing donors who are not able to give blood at this time and to ensure that we have the right mix of blood groups to match patients’ needs. 

A number of misconceptions still exist about donating blood;  almost half (48%) of the people responding to an NHS Blood and Transplant survey said they think that the NHS asks friends and family to donate when a patient needs blood and 13% think that synthetic blood is created to meet the national demand. However, 8 out of 10 people knew that unpaid volunteers are the way that blood stocks are maintained.

In 2015, 204,000 new volunteers need to attend a session to donate to ensure that the nation’s blood stocks continue to remain at a safe level in the future.  When a survey asked for the reasons why they don’t give blood, respondents gave a range of reasons.  The top three given were a fear of needles (22%), knowing it’s a good thing to do but not getting around to it (27%) and health problems so they don’t believe they are eligible to donate (21%), which may not be the case.

In contrast, 86% of respondents who had given blood felt that it was as expected, or easier than they expected it to be. Well over half (56%) said it makes them feel worthwhile donating blood, whilst over a quarter (27%) feel like they are giving something back to society.

Jon Latham, Assistant Director for Donor Services and Marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant, says:  

We simply can’t ignore the fact that there has been a stark reduction in the number of new donors coming forward - a trend seen across the world.  While we can meet the needs of patients now, it’s important we strengthen the donor base for the future.  If we don’t attract new people across England and North Wales to donate it will put more pressure on the ability to provide the right type of blood the NHS needs for patients in the future.

“We know that people’s lives have got busier over the last decade. People are working longer hours, commuting further, spending more time online and have less time of their own, despite more options of how to use it.  Good causes are also competing increasingly for people’s attention and time. Travel to more exotic places, tattoos and investigations such as endoscopy are becoming more common and these lead to short term deferrals from donation.  These are just some of the reasons why we’ve seen a decline in new people starting to donate.

 “Giving blood is an amazing thing to do. Help us reverse the decline in new donors. Please go to, find out if you’re eligible to donate, register as a donor and book an appointment today. Giving blood is simple and easy to do and will only take about an hour of your time.  It could literally be a matter of life and death for somebody else.

There are a number of ways you can support National Blood Week and the Missing Type campaign:

  • If you are 17 or over, visit or call 0300 123 23 23 today to find out if you are eligible to donate, register as a blood donor and to book your appointment
  • Download our app by searching ‘NHSGiveBlood’ in the App store.  It’s available for Android, Windows and Apple Smartphone and tablet devices
  • Show your support for blood donation on social media during National Blood Week by posting about blood donation and removing the As, Os and Bs, using #missingtype
  • Twitter @givebloodnhs #missingtype
  • Facebook:
  • Instagram @GivebloodNHS
  • Youtube:

Help ensure we can provide the right type of blood for patients in the future. Do something amazing. Give blood.

For more information please contact: / 020 3128 8545


*Research conducted by Populus, May 2015, in a survey of 2,012UK representative adults.  The figures and percentages given in the media outreach relate to the responses from people living in England.  There were 1,730 respondents in England.

About NHS Blood and Transplant:

  • NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. Its remit includes the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England and North Wales. It is also the organ donor organisation for the UK and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs
  • Donors can search for sessions, change their contact details, book appointments and change/cancel their appointments in real time on
  • There are apps available for Android, Windows and Apple Smartphone and tablet devices which enable donors to search for sessions based on your location, book and manage appointments.
  • NHSBT’s 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
  • NHSBT collects 1.7 million units of blood each year from over 23,000 blood donation sessions in more than 3,000 venues
  • Only four per cent of the eligible population are active blood donors
  • A unit of blood is measured as 470mls (or just under a pint)
  • There are four main blood groups – O, A, B and AB. A regular supply of all blood groups is vital – red cells last 35 days and platelets only 7days.
  • Maintaining a regular supply of group O Rh Negative is particularly important to respond to patient need.