Blood donors around Scotland are being urged to keep donating to support patients in need, as the tremendous response from blood donors during the pandemic, particularly new donors begin to wane.
At the height of lockdown, blood donation appointments were often booked up as far as four weeks in advance. However, with the relaxation of lockdown, large portions of the Scottish population are suddenly able to leave home for extended periods, and giving blood – both for existing and potential donors – has dropped down the agenda. With hospitals resuming pre-lockdown treatments and elective surgery slowly returning, demand for blood products is gradually rising again. However, SNBTS has lost the use of many blood collection venues who unable to meet social distancing requirements; and the continued fear of contacting the virus (plus the emerging fear of local lockdowns) means the service may face challenging times with increased hospital usage with decreased donations.
If you’ve never given blood before, don’t let that stop you making an appointment. We will be delighted to welcome you as one of the 3,000 new donors we need this year.
Associate Director for Donor and Transport Services, Lynne Willdigg says, 'We want to say to everyone who gave blood or worked to collect blood throughout the pandemic - from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Without you, your generosity, your tenacity and your courage to help others, no matter how scared you were, no matter what your personal circumstances, patients in Scotland would not have had the blood they needed. What each of you collectively did over the course of Covid-19 was awe-inspiring. You are heroes.
'However, on behalf of patients across the country, we'd like make one more ask of people in Scotland. If you're free and able over the next few weeks, could you please make an appointment to give blood?
'Patients in Scotland still need help, particularly from new blood donors. At the start of lockdown we saw a surge in new donors attending, rising to over 12% of the donations we took in in March; however, this has steadily decreased as lockdown relaxed, and over the last two months we have seen substantially below average donations from new donors. Each year we can forecast a dip in donations during the summer holidays. This year is unfortunately beyond any of our normal forecasting methods and as NHS Scotland returns a variable but not quite normal service we need to be able deliver whatever products are required. That’s why today we’re reaching out to both existing donors and people who have never given blood before to look up our website, find out if there's a session on, and book in to give blood – if not this week, next week, or the week after that. No matter how unpredictable the global health climate is, Scotland needs a steady flow of blood donors as there will always be patients that need your support.”
All donation sessions in Scotland, whether city donor centres to local sessions in church halls are now run by appointment and bookable online or by calling our helpline. Appointments were introduced to support social distancing on session but have also helped inform in advance exactly what quantity of which blood groups are being collected each day, allowing us to more accurately match the supply to clinical demand.
Lynne Willdigg continues, 'Aberdeen's local lockdown is upsetting, but please remember, no matter what the pandemic situation, giving blood is classed as essential travel, and we’ve made big changes to the way each session is run and we have done everything in our power to keep donors and staff as safe as possible. As well as introducing appointments, we now run a triage system at reception to determine whether donors are safe to donate or not; staff all wear masks and additional role-specific PPE; we’ve changed and socially distanced the layout of waiting and donating areas; donors are now served refreshments on the bed, doing away with crowded tea areas; and we have introduced antibacterial hand gel stations for use at various stages throughout the process. Donors can wear a mask to attend however will be required to remove it at health screening and while actually donating, this is to ensure we can better assess their health and monitor them more closely during donation.
'If you’ve never given blood before and don’t know your blood type, don’t let that stop you making an appointment. We will be delighted to welcome you as one of the 3,000 new donors we need this year.
'However, before you come to the session, please do check on scotblood.co.uk to make sure your session has not changed. We are doing our very best to keep everything to plan, but Covid-19 has had a way of knocking things at the last minute. Please come on your own or with friend or family member if they also have an appointment. Finally, please don't come too early - a few minutes before your appointment is fine, and means we avoid the possibility of a queue outside the session.'
SNBTS update blood stocks daily on www.scotblood.co.uk, helping blood donors to make an even bigger difference by giving blood when it is most needed. This is because blood cannot be stockpiled, and has a shelf life of only 35 days.
To sign up as a blood donor and find out where your nearest donation session is, call 0345 90 90 999, or visit scotblood.co.uk
You can also find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/givebloodforscotland and Twitter @givebloodscot
Current blood stock levels across Scotland Tuesday 27 February