Lower demand for blood leads to NHS chiefs cutting donor session numbers in East Anglia
06:30 28 June 2014
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Health chiefs have insisted that there is enough capacity for blood donors in East Anglia to save lives, despite an almost 10pc reduction in donation sessions across the region.
Facts and figures
• There are currently 26,447 blood donors in Norfolk, 22,096 in Suffolk, and 29,318 in Cambridgeshire, according to NHS Blood and Transplant.
• The average number of donations per session is 100, which means there are enough sessions for 54,900 people to donate once a year in Norfolk and for 27,450 people to donate twice a year.
• The amount of blood requested by hospitals for patients has reduced by 125,000 units in the last two years in England and North Wales to 1.7 million units in 2013/14.
• Last year, three bloodmobiles, which served mainly rural areas in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, were taken off the road following a review.
New figures have revealed that the number of donor sessions, organised by NHS Blood and Transplant, have been reduced over the last year. However, officials from the publicly-funded organisation said the changes had been made because of the overall need for blood across England and Wales had reduced because of advances in medicine.
Figures from a Freedom of Information (FoI) request revealed that the number of donor sessions in Norfolk were reduced from 636 in 2012/13 to 549 in 2013/14. In Suffolk, the number of opportunities for donors to give blood went from 727 to 642 in the space of a year and the number of sessions in Cambridgeshire was cut from 1,132 to 1,055.
Officials from NHS Blood and Transplant said improved clinical practice, such as more keyhole surgery procedures, and better blood management by hospitals meant that demand for red cells, plasma and platelets had reduced in recent years.
Jane Griffiths, head of region for the NHS organisation, said: “Overall, the need for blood has reduced and it has meant we have needed to collect blood more wisely to ensure we only collect the blood hospitals need. We will always need our blood donors to help save lives but we want to work together to only provide the blood that is needed at the right time – this may mean prioritising donors with rarer blood groups such as O Rh negative and B Rh negative. If we were to collect more blood than is needed it would potentially waste our donors’ time and NHS money which could be better spent on front-line patient care.”
How you can help
• You can give blood if you are fit and healthy, weigh over 7st 12 lbs (50kg) and are aged between 17 and 66. If you are over 70, you need to have given blood in the last two years to continue donating.
• Male donors can give blood every 12 weeks. Female donors can give every 16 weeks.
• The current blood stock level in England and Wales is currently at 44,000 units, which has fallen from 56,000 in mid-April.
• A unit of blood can be used in a number of ways. Red cells are used predominantly in treatments for cancer and blood diseases, as well as for treating anaemia and in surgeries for transplants and burns. Plasma provides proteins, nutrients and a clotting agent that is vital to stop bleeding. Platelets are tiny cells used to help patients at a high risk of bleeding. They also contribute to the repair of damaged body tissue.
• Call the blood service helpline on 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.blood.co.uk.
“Every year we review our blood donation sessions so that we can meet patient needs and the demand for blood from NHS hospitals while, at the same time, providing a good service to our donors. In East Anglia, there are still a number of locations where we hold blood donation sessions and we will always need new volunteers to replace those who can no longer donate for reasons such as ill health or pregnancy.”
What are your experiences of giving blood? Email firstname.lastname@example.org