Our improved donation processes

We’ve made further changes to the questions we ask our donors in order to be more inclusive.

As part of our efforts to improve the donor experience, we have made further changes to the questions we ask before donation that are more equitable.

This is the second stage of the changes first introduced in June last year, where donors are now no longer asked whether, in the last three months, they have had sex with someone who may ever have had sex in parts of the world where HIV/AIDS is more common.

The Government’s decision to change eligibility criteria followed a review by the FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) steering group led by NHS Blood and Transplant. FAIR concluded that this question is not needed because the new Donation Safety Check questionnaire ensures all donors are now assessed based on their individual recent sexual behaviour.

Su Brailsford, Interim Associate Medical Director at NHS Blood and Transplant and chair of FAIR, says, "We are proud of the work that we did with FAIR to support the Government in making this landmark change and we support the decision that they made last year to remove this question.

"This question affected people of all ethnicities and their partners, but in particular people with African heritage – and amongst them many in the Black African community were put off the idea of giving blood because of it.

"In recent years nearly a third more Black donors have been saving lives, but there has also been a 50 per cent rise in patients with sickle cell disorder, who, themselves are often of Black heritage, and need a rare blood type that is most commonly found in people of the same ethnicity.

"We now have a real opportunity to build on our existing work with Black communities and encourage more people of Black heritage to donate by raising awareness of this eligibility change and promoting the urgent need for more ethnically matched blood."

This decision follows an earlier change, which has meant that more men from the LGBT+ community are now also eligible to give blood. 

All blood, plasma and platelet donors are now routinely encouraged to consider past infection and current sexual behaviour before coming to donate and also when it is the right time to make an appointment. We ask all donors to please check our website for the latest guidance on eligibility before attending.

These changes will be kept under review to ensure the continued safety of blood. Feedback from donors, patients and representatives will be a key consideration. 

Landmark change for Black African heritage donors