NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), which is accountable to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, is responsible for the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of blood to hospitals in England and associated services to the wider National Health Service.
NHSBT aims to retain six days’ supply of blood at any one time. This is in addition to the stock held within hospitals, which is typically five – six days’ stock. Following the poor weather earlier in the year, followed closely by the Easter and May bank holidays, NHSBT’s stock levels of blood groups B negative and O negative have remained around three days. However, there is no shortage of blood and NHSBT has continued to meet hospitals’ requirements.
In order to increase, and maintain, stocks for blood groups B negative and O negative, NHSBT has put out urgent appeals for those donors to come forward. It has put on extra sessions and donors are being particularly encouraged to attend one of NHSBT’s 23 donor centres where there are still a number of appointments available.
NHSBT regularly reviews its blood donation programme to ensure that the venues, staff numbers and session frequency are all in place to allow the correct amount of blood to be collected to meet patient needs. It has to balance a reduction in hospitals’ demand of blood (around 4% for each of the last few years) against not wasting precious donations by collecting too much blood.
As part of ongoing governance and accountability arrangements, officials in the Department meet, and liaise with, NHSBT on a regular basis.