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NHS Blood and Transport experiencing ‘severe’ supply shortages for hospitals

NHS Blood and Transport is in “crisis mode” regarding its provision of blood supplies to hospitals due to severe shortages. The difficulties have been attributed to high levels of COVID among staff, which have led to cancellations of donor sessions. Cases of the virus in the UK are experiencing an 18-month high, with case numbers up 32% in last week’s data and an estimated 2.3 million infections.

Demand for blood stocks has risen significantly due to hospital services attempting to ‘catch up’ on routine procedures that were postponed during the pandemic. National levels for the O positive blood type are currently the lowest, with around three days stock remaining across the UK. Donors are being sought with this blood type, although all types are welcome, especially O and B negative.

For example, The Birmingham Donor Centre has only 59% capacity for the next week, and is at 40% capacity the following week.

Shortages such as these have not been seen during the pandemic, as when COVID infections were rising, procedures had been postponed or cancelled. Hospitals are now experiencing high emergency care demand, along with their intent to maximise elective activity. Around 6,000 units of blood are required by English hospitals per day, for transfusion purposes.

An NHSBT spokesman commented on the issue: “We are experiencing staff shortages at many of our donor centres and mobile teams which has left our operations vulnerable from increases in short-term sickness.

This has unfortunately led to some appointments being cancelled. To address this, we are redeploying staff from elsewhere in NHSBT, using agency staff and contacting ex-employees.”

Natalie Creaney