Make a New Year’s resolution to help fill appointments left empty due to colds and flu

6 January 2023

Make giving blood to save lives your New Year’s resolution and book an appointment to donate in the next few days and weeks to help ensure hospitals get the blood they need this winter. We particularly need O and B Negative donors who have an appointment over the next days and weeks to keep them if they are fit and healthy.

The appeal follows a higher than usual number of cancellations by donors due to seasonal illnesses and holiday disruptions, as well as a rise in demand for O negative blood from hospitals. This is affecting our ability to collect enough of the right blood types.

Supplies of O and B negative blood are under pressure and urgently need to be rebuilt.

Anyone with an upcoming appointment is being asked to stick to it if they are fit and well and any O and B negative blood donors who don’t have a booking are asked to urgently call 0300 303 2096 to find a priority space. If needed we will swap out other appointments to prioritise booking in donors with these two most needed blood types.

More than half of donors who cancelled their appointments over the last seven days cited sickness as the reason in a survey. December saw the highest number of cancelled appointments of winter so far, around 16% more than in November. For every two appointments that went ahead, one more was cancelled at short notice, which the NHS then had to try to refill.

As well as seasonal illnesses affecting how much blood we can collect, hospitals are ordering more O negative blood than expected. Around 740 more units of O negative blood were issued to hospitals in the past two weeks. This is putting pressure on blood stocks.

There are many O negative blood donors who may not have donated in a while – and so we are also urging these people to consider making their New Year’s resolution to book their next appointment now. A recent YouGov survey found one in five existing blood donors only donate once a year or less. Yet healthy donors are generally eligible to make their next appointment every 12 weeks for men or 16 weeks for women.

David Rose, Director of Donor Experience at NHS Blood and Transplant said:
“Make a New Year’s Resolution to Give Blood and save three lives. Please book an appointment to donate in the next few days and weeks. We are seeing higher than usual cancellations by donors due to seasonal illnesses and holiday disruption. If you are fit and well, please keep your appointment to help us build stocks.

“We particularly need O and B negative donors in the next few days and weeks to urgently increase supplies. If you are one of those donors and you don’t have a booking, please call us and we will find you a space. We might need to move the appointments of donors with other blood types to accommodate this, which will be frustrating for them, but it’s a necessary step to ensure that we can keep supplying hospitals with the right type of blood.”

Minister of State for Health Neil O’Brien said:

“To kickstart the New Year, we need blood donors to continue to donate and save lives. We are working closely with the NHS to boost blood supplies and are particularly looking for donations of O Negative and B Negative blood at this time.

“The team at NSHBT is working tirelessly on the frontline ensuring hospitals get the blood they need this winter so they can deliver the best possible care to patients. If you have an appointment, do try and attend and if you’re eligible, please consider donating. You might just save a life.”

Most town and city centre donor centres have appointments available although most community sessions are full for the next few weeks. Donors are asked to check back again, as there may be an appointment that has been cancelled at short notice. Alternatively, donors are asked to look for an appointment in the future or further afield – blood is needed all year round.

Winter is always a challenging time for blood stocks. Blood stocks in England always reach their annual low point in the first week of January. NHS Blood and Transplant aims to hold above six days of blood stocks at any given time.