NHS issues ‘amber’ alert on blood stocks and urges O donors to come forward


NHS Blood and Transplant has triggered an “amber alert” today (Wednesday) meaning hospitals have been asked to put in place management plans to protect blood stocks.

If stocks are not rebuilt, it could mean postponing some non-urgent elective surgeries to ensure blood is prioritised for patients who need it most. 

O blood groups are in particular need.

An NHS spokesperson said: “We would ask donors in Bedford with an appointment at a mobile session to please keep their appointments.

“And if you are an O blood group donor and you don’t have an appointment, please call and we will prioritise you wherever possible.

“Our message is to please keep making and keeping appointments over the next few weeks as we look to rebuild stocks.”

Hospitals will continue to carry out any urgent, emergency or trauma surgery, cancer surgery, transplant surgery and blood transfusions to treat people with long term conditions.  

 The amber alert will last initially for four weeks which should enable blood stocks to be rebuilt. 

 NHS Blood and Transplant aims to hold above six days of blood stocks, however levels are currently predicted to fall below two days which is the threshold for an amber alert. 

Wendy Clark, Interim Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transplant said: “Asking hospitals to limit their use of blood is not a step we take lightly. This is a vital measure to protect patients who need blood the most.  

 “Patients are our focus. I sincerely apologise to those patients who may see their surgery postponed because of this. 

 “With the support of hospitals and the measures we are taking to scale up collection capacity, we hope to be able to build stocks back to a more sustainable footing. 

 “We cannot do this without our amazing donors. If you are O Positive or O Negative in particular, please make an appointment to give blood as soon as you can. If you already have an appointment, please keep it.” 

Blood can only be stored for 35 days, which means there is a constant need for donations – and a need for specific blood types.

The NHS Blood and Transplant appointment system carefully balances the supply of blood with the changing demand from patients and hospitals. Collecting too much blood and the wrong type would mean lifesaving blood is wasted and hospitals may not have the right type available for patients when they need it.  

Book an appointment

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 

If you are fit and healthy please make an appointment to donate. If you need to cancel please give at least three days’ notice so the place can be offered to another donor. Give blood and help save or improve up to three lives. All it takes is just one hour of your time. 

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