Extra coronavirus safety measures on blood donation sessions

Changes include bigger spaces between chairs, checking for risk factors, extra cleaning and increased hand washing.

23 March 2020

Blood donation is always essential to the NHS, but due to the coronavirus some donors are now feeling unsure about safety and whether sessions are still going ahead.

Over the course of last week, the number of people calling our contact centre to ask if their donation session is going ahead went from around 30 a day to around 500 a day, and blood donation fell.

The number of blood donations collected last week was 15% lower than expected although the impact was largely mitigated by a drop in demand due to the cancellation of elective operations. Stocks remain good.

However, we need to reduce uncertainty now to keep regular donations coming in as normal over the next few weeks and months.

From this week (23 March 2020) staff will now triage people on arrival to make sure they are well enough to come into the donation area.

Donation teams, who are already trained in thorough universal hygiene precautions, are already carrying out extra cleaning.

Alcohol handrubs are available on arrival for all to use. Donors are being contacted about coronavirus health and hygiene before coming to their appointment.

We are is asking partners and supporters to make sure people know blood donation is still needed and sessions are still running.

Dr Gail Miflin, the Chief Medical Officer for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We can assure people that blood donation sessions are still going ahead. If you are fit and healthy, travel to donate blood is essential for the NHS and seriously ill patients.

“Extra safety measures are in place. For example, our trained staff will now check everyone on arrival at a session and even stricter cleaning procedures are in place once they are inside.

“Blood donation saves lives and we will need our donors more than ever over the new few weeks and months.

“Please keep your appointment to donate if you can. If you do have to cancel your appointment for any reason, then it is important that you let us know so we can offer your slot as soon as possible to another donor.

“Combating the virus will take a huge national effort. Donation is something you can do to help the NHS. It’s a reason to go outside and then do something amazing.”

Roanna Maharaj, 30, from Wood Green in London, has thalassaemia major and needs blood transfusions every three weeks to stay alive. During a spell of poor health she had 248 units of blood over 18 months.

Roanna (pictured) said: “My body does not create enough haemoglobin to carry oxygen around my body. I’ve never taken blood donors and donation for granted, and this is truer now more than ever.

“Right now, one of the most important things you can do to ensure we do not have another health crisis, is keep donating blood.

Many people like me rely on blood donations to stay alive.

Thank you to everyone who keeps donating as normal.”

We are working with the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England, and the UK’s blood donation services to manage the impact of the rapidly changing situation. 

We need to collect around 5,000 units of blood a day. Blood is used for treating trauma, cancer, blood diseases, bleeds in childbirth, and much more. Each donation can save up to three lives.

To make an appointment to donate, register online, call 0300 123 23 23 or download the NHS Give Blood app. Get more information on donating blood during the coronavirus outbreak.