Bring back walk-in clinics to fix blood crisis amid shortages Mail on Sunday calls for urgent action

MPs, medics and charities last night demanded urgent action to address the unprecedented blood supply crisis – including the return of walk-in appointments for donors.

They fear the shortages will continue into the new year, meaning thousands of operations will have to be cancelled.

Blood supplies fell to record lows last week, prompting the NHS in England to issue its first orange warning. With supplies of the “universal” blood type O-, which can be given to anyone, down to just two days’ supply — one-third the level required — health chiefs suggested hospitals do some non-emergency surgeries, such as hip and knee replacements.

But Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said last night: ‘The government needs to get a grip, secure the blood supply and make sure patients don’t see any further delays to surgery.’

MPs, medics and charities last night demanded urgent action to tackle the unprecedented blood supply crisis – including the return of walk-in appointments for donors

Now The Mail on Sunday is launching a campaign to tackle the crisis. Health professionals, experts and politicians supported our calls for:

  • Walk-in services are restored and the process of giving blood is made easier for donors
  • A renewed focus on getting black people to donate as they are much more likely to have a type of blood that is particularly in demand
  • The premier NHS app – downloaded by 30 million people – to boost donations

Walk-ins were scrapped in 2016 as part of a cost saving. NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) claimed they were inefficient and expensive and replaced them with appointments booked over the internet, phone or the NHS Give Blood app.

But last night, Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director who previously described the walk-in ban as ‘crazy’, called for a reconsideration.

She said: ‘Processing blood donors online is undoubtedly cheaper and easier administratively than the traditional way, but the end result may be that some people who want to donate blood can no longer do so. At a time when we know that the NHS is eager to donate more blood, the process online alone will hardly help.’

The Mail on Sunday has launched a campaign to end the blood donor crisis and reopen walk-in clinics

Rachael Maskell, a Labor member of the House of Commons Health Committee, said: ‘NHSBT should do everything possible to make it easy for people to donate. Walk-in appointments seem like a very good idea.’

Peter Bowell, a former manager of Oxford Blood Centre, which processed donations from across southern England, said the removal of walk-ins was ‘a mistake’ and that ‘they should be returned’. He added: “The donor is king and we should do everything we can to get as many people through the door as possible.”

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NHSBT stressed that walk-ins were only responsible for one in 12 donors, and that if people book appointments in advance, the NHS can target those with blood types who need it most at the time.

Targeting has become increasingly important as the demand for O blood has risen while aggregate demand has fallen. One reason for this is the increasing prevalence of the blood disorders sickle cell disease and thalassemia, which are more common in black and South Asian people. Patients with these conditions may require frequent transfusions to stay healthy.

Walk-ins were scrapped in 2016 as part of a cost saving. NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) claimed they were inefficient and expensive and replaced them with appointments booked over the internet, phone or the NHS Give Blood app

If supplies of a blood type match are not available, the patient will be given O- instead. For people with sickle cell disease, an ideal match is often a subtype called Ro, carried by about half of black Britons.

Tracy Williams, manager of the Sickle Cell Society’s Give Blood, Spread Love campaign, said recruiting more black donors was vital, both to make more Ro blood available and to reduce O stocks.

The campaign is supported by NHSBT, but she said more could always be done. “We would encourage as many black heritage donors who can give blood as possible to consider donating blood,” she added.

An NHSBT spokesperson said it will bring additional staff to clinics, speed up recruitment and encourage the use of city center donation sites that are more available.

Wendy Clark, the interim director of NHS Blood and Transplant, said last night: ‘Patients are our focus. I offer my sincere apologies to the patients who may see their surgery delayed as a result.

‘With the support of hospitals and the measures we are taking to scale up the collection capacity, we hope to rebuild the stocks more sustainably.’

Experts also believe the main NHS app could boost blood donation. It is already being used to raise awareness of organ donation, with nearly half a million people making their wishes clear.

DDM Health’s Arjun Panesar, who helped develop the Gro Health app that provides NHS-certified health programs for people with chronic conditions, said the NHS app could ‘definitely’ be used to boost blood donation if done carefully. is being done.

Tory MP Marco Longhi, member of the Health Select Committee, said of NHSBT: ‘The inability and unwillingness to hold the failing NHS management to account is particularly evident in this once respected public service organisation.’

Jacky

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