Statement: NHS Blood and Transplant addresses delays for donors at sessions

14 January 2014

An article in The Times, published on 14 January 2014, highlighted that administrative reasons prevented around 24,000 donors from giving blood after attending a blood donation session last year. More than 1.9 million potential donors attended a blood donation session in 2013.

An administrative deferral is recorded at a session if a potential donor completes the Donor Health Check and does not go on to donate because of delays at sessions. The figures also include misprinting of the Donor Health Check forms, and a donation number being generated which cannot be used as the form needs to be reprinted so the donor can complete it and give blood. Administrative deferrals affected around 1 in 100 donors attending a blood donation session in 2013.

Administrative deferrals are among a number of reasons why people do not donate after completing their Donor Health Check. Medical reasons identified through the form and people failing the fingerprick test designed to check a potential donor's haemoglobin levels to see if they can give blood safely account for a higher percentage of potential donors not going on to donate.

Jon Latham, Assistant Director of Marketing and Donor Services at NHS Blood and Transplant said: "We are grateful to every potential donor who makes the decision to give blood and save lives and are sorry that a small percentage of donors each year do not donate because of delays on sessions.

"There are a number of factors which may cause delays at sessions. Donor safety comes first, and if someone feels unwell after giving blood it is important that the staff on session attend to them, but this may cause delays for others waiting to donate. Unexpected staff sickness can lead to a session running on a smaller number of beds than planned, affecting the number of people who can donate. And we also simply cannot accurately predict how many potential donors will walk into any of our sessions to donate.

"We are sorry that some people may be disappointed at their experience of blood donation. However, we are pleased that almost seventy per cent of donors surveyed rate us 9 out of 10 or 10 of 10 for customer satisfaction.

"We would like to reassure all donors that we are working very hard to make sure that everybody has a positive experience of donating blood so they come back to donate again in future.

"We value every donor and try to do our best to accommodate everyone. We endeavour to offer a good balance of appointments and space for donors who wish to just walk in and we regularly review this. We have also recently made improvements to which mean that donors have greater visibility of appointment availability and can book appointments online up to the day of the session.

"Once again we thank everybody who saves lives through blood donation. You help us to ensure that patients across England and North Wales always get the transfusion they need."