Urgent call for London blood donors to fill empty appointments in critical winter period

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The NHS is issuing an urgent plea to blood donors in London to make and keep an appointment to donate to help ensure hospitals can continue to treat patients over a potentially challenging winter.

NHS Blood and Transplant needs to build strong blood stocks this winter to help hospitals through a second wave of Covid-19 as well as seasonal pressures. Blood donations are always needed for routine care – demand for blood is almost at pre-pandemic levels yet there is less space on session to collect blood now due to social distancing.

Extra appointments have been made available at the city’s donor centres and elsewhere to help meet these challenges. But fewer people are travelling into the city to work and shop due to the pandemic.

This means the permanent donor centres at West End and Edgware have more unfilled appointments than usual. Only one in five slots at both centres in November are currently booked.

Blood donation appointment fill rates are even lower at the temporary donor centres in Bexleyheath, Stratford, Twickenham and Bloomsbury. Although these ‘pop-up’ centres mainly collect convalescent plasma donations, they have immediate appointments available for blood donors to help build stocks for the winter.

Giving blood is exempt from Covid-19 travel restrictions, even during a full lockdown, and donor centres remain open with appointments operating as normal.

Gayle Franklin, Head of Blood Donation for the East at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We urgently need our donors to make and keep an appointment to give blood at our London donor centres.

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“Currently blood stocks are good. But as we enter what could be a very challenging winter period we need our loyal donors more than ever to help us to keep hospitals supplied with lifesaving blood.

“Our donor centres 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.”

Extra safety measures are in place across all blood donation sessions. All donors are triaged with a temperature check on arrival. Hand gels and hand washing facilities are available, donors are spaced apart and staff are doing extra cleaning. Staff and donors wear face coverings.

Donors are reminded to follow all relevant Government transport guidance when making a journey to give blood, such as the use of public transport.

Hospitals need blood for routine operations, saving accident victims and treating patients with serious illnesses like cancer. Each donation can save or improve up to three lives.

Book appointments and check the latest guidance on Covid-19 and giving blood by calling 0300 123 23 23, downloading the NHS Give Blood app, or visiting the website blood.co.uk

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