Blood donations are desperately needed – please do not give up

Blood bag
Blood bag

Potential donors are being urged to contact the priority appointment line if they have 0 negative or B negative blood as stocks are desperately low.

This week we shared an appeal by the NHS Blood and Transplant team who said blood stocks for O negative and B negative blood were low due to a bank holiday drop off in donations and an increase in demand for certain blood types.

However, many of our readers across Sussex took to Facebook to say they had tried to give blood but had faced many barriers – including not being able to get an appointment until September or having their appointments cancelled at short notice.

We put our readers’ concerns to the NHS team to seek advice on the situation.

Pam Pye, a spokesman for NHS Blood and Transplant explained: “We currently have enough stock of other blood groups to meet demand from hospitals, so anyone who is not O- or B- may find it harder to get an appointment. Our priority at the moment is to prioritise those donors who are O- or B- as these blood groups are down to two days.

“If someone has never donated before they may not be able to see an available appointment in the next few days when they log on to blood.co.uk. This is because our stocks are low at the moment and we are prioritising regular donors – they are more likely to be able to donate for sure and we already know if they have a blood group which has particularly low stocks.”

However, she added: “We do need new donors, particularly if they know they are O negative or B negative and if they can’t get an appointment now, please call 0300 123 23 23 and ask for a priority appointment or make one for a date in a few days or weeks – we will need them in the future to start saving lives.”

In relation to appointment availability, Pam confirmed donation sessions held in community venues, such as church halls, are often more than 85 per cent full, but usually only 65 per cent of appointments are filled at the permanent donor centres at any one time.

“When people have difficulty booking an appointment they often worry that there will be a shortage,” Pam said. “When in reality, the fact that our sessions are fully booked is a good thing because it means we are collecting the blood we need.”

Sussex readers pointed out that some sessions seemed to have closed over the years, something that the NHS spokesman confirmed.

“We have closed some sessions over the last few years up and down the country because the long-term trend is for hospitals to use slightly less blood in general each year,” Pam said. “This is because they are better at knowing when to transfuse patients and also have new techniques such as keyhole surgery.

“We appreciate that has meant some people, especially in rural areas, are not able to easily travel to a session when there is a short-term problem.

“However, we have made sure we have enough appointments available at the sessions we retain. We’re grateful to everyone who offers help.

“We no longer run the mobile blood vans that used to visit workplaces etc. We moved to running more larger sessions in the community as the blood vans could only accommodate three to four donors at a time whereas the mobile hall sessions can accommodate up to 12 donors at any one time, making it more efficient.”

The list of sessions running across Sussex are below:

Brighton, Brighton Racecourse, 14 day visit, from June 1

Haywards Heath, Clair Hall, ten day visit from June 4

Portslade, Portslade Town Hall, six day visit, from June 5

Eastbourne, The Kings Centre, June 6

Eastbourne, The Kings Centre, June 6

Peacehaven, Meridian Centre, five day visit, from June 8

Eastbourne, Sun Coast Church, June 11

Hastings Centre, The Hastings Centre, June 11

Lancing, Lancing Parish Council, seven day visit, from June 12

Seaford, Seaford Baptist Church Hall, June 14

Hove, Sussex County Cricket Club, ten day visit, from June 15

Patcham, Patcham Community Centre, three day visit, from June 19

Hastings, Church of Jesus Christ, June 20

Hassocks, Adastra Hall, three day visit, from June 22

Burgess Hill, The King’s Centre, eight day visit, from July 5

Lewes, Corn Exchange, nine day visit, from July 9

Hailsham, Wealden Community Hall, July 17

Southwick, Community Centre, five day visit, from July 25

Henfield, The Henfield Hall, two day visit, from August 3

Shoreham, Shoreham Centre, four day visit, from August 24

Bexhill On Sea, St. Peter’s Community Centre, August 24

Bexhill On Sea, St. Peter’s Community Centre, August 24

Steyning, Steyning Centre, one day visit, from September 24

Rye, Rye College, October 22