The NHS has made an urgent appeal for blood donors in London over the summer months as demand for blood transfusions begins to increase.
As lockdown restrictions ease, NHS Blood and Transplant anticipates an increased demand for blood which can save lives in emergencies, during childbirth and in some cancer treatments.
But there are concerns over supplies, with major donation centres in London seeing only between 26 per cent and 56 per cent of available donor appointments booked during the summer months.
Nadine Eaton, head of blood donation marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We want all patients to get the lifesaving blood they need over the summer months and are appealing to our amazing donors to make and keep an appointment to give blood at four of our donor centres in London.
“We are seeing a rise in demand for blood from hospitals, so we need our loyal donors more than ever to help us to keep hospitals supplied with lifesaving blood. Each donation can save or improve up to three lives.
“All donor centres in London are open as usual with extra safety measures in place. If you are fit and healthy, please make an appointment to donate. If you need to cancel, please let us know as soon as possible.”
Appointments can be booked at any of the four major donation centres in London, located in Shepherd’s Bush, Stratford, Twickenham and the West End, by visiting the Give Blood website.
Labour’s London Assembly health spokesperson Dr Onkar Sahota has said that warnings over potential blood shortages are “very concerning” and has echoed calls for Londoners to donate if they are eligible.
Dr Sahota said: “These warnings about potential blood donation shortages this summer are very concerning. We have seen the impact that successive waves of the pandemic have had on the NHS and this is where we can play our part to give it the support that it needs.
“I am urging all Londoners who are eligible to give blood to register online and book in at their nearest donation centre. It is safe to do so and could save lives.”
Dr Sahota added: “It is great that blood and plasma donation has finally been opened up to more gay and bisexual men. This is a long-overdue policy shift which will help to put an end to prejudice and boost public health.”
A “landmark” rule change introduced earlier this month means that, for the first time, gay and bisexual men in England, Scotland and Wales can donate blood if they have had one sexual partner in the last three months.
It ends the policy that restricted donor eligibility based on the perceived risks of contracting HIV, with eligibility to now be determined based on everyone’s individual circumstances.