Lower demand for blood leads to NHS chiefs cutting donor session numbers in East Anglia

Darren Huckerby with donor carer Jude Atkin at the Carrow Road session.; Photo: Bill Smith

Darren Huckerby with donor carer Jude Atkin at the Carrow Road session.; Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2010

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.

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.'

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'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 adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

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