Blood donors are urged to book ahead by NHS bosses to stave off prolonged winter crisis

  • NHS Blood and Transplant issued ‘amber alert’ over low blood stocks 10 days ago
  • Publicity resulted in thousands trying to book appointments at the same time
  • The squeeze on appointments has been made worse by donor staff shortages 

Blood donors frustrated they cannot get an early appointment are being urged to book ahead by NHS bosses, to stave off a prolonged crisis this winter. 

Ten days ago, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) issued a four-week-long ‘amber alert’ as blood stocks ran low. 

The publicity resulted in thousands of Britons trying to book appointments, but many were told the next available slots in their area were weeks, or even months away, which has put some donors off. 

Blood donors frustrated they cannot get an early appointment are being urged to book ahead by NHS bosses, to stave off a prolonged crisis this winter 

The squeeze on appointments has been made worse by donor staff shortages – which NHSBT said was the main cause of supplies running low in the first place. 

Last night consultant haematologist Dr Lise Estcourt, associate medical director for blood transfusion at NHSBT, said: ‘We understand the frustrations of donors, but if sessions close to them are full, that’s a good sign that we are filling appointments. 

‘The need for blood is ongoing, so we would encourage donors to book the next appointment available to them and to keep that appointment.’ 

Among those having to wait until next year to give blood is languages teacher Joanna Irving from Bedfordshire. 

She was told that the next available appointment in her area was in February, despite her being a former donor with blood O negative – the type in short supply. 

Ms Irving, 52, said NHSBT insisted on treating her as a new donor because she had not given blood for five or ten years, and had ‘archived’ her records. 

She was told: ‘Because we don’t have any electronic records, we have to process you as a new donor.’ 

‘Their whole IT system seems to be working against them,’ Ms Irving added. 

Blood stocks have risen from their record low tens days ago, but hospitals are still being urged to be careful with blood, potentially delaying operations

Annoyed at how difficult the process had been, she did not book the February appointment although said she might ring back. 

Blood stocks have risen from their record lows ten days ago. At that time there were just two days of O negative blood supplies left – a third of the six days’ supply the NHS likes to have. 

Last Friday stocks of O negative and O positive had risen to just above four days. 

Hospitals are still being urged to be careful with blood, potentially delaying operations.

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