The NHS Blood and Transplantation Authority declared a major incident in late October after the agency’s blood supply fell to a critical, nationwide level.
The regulator’s supply risks falling below two days of supply across the country, as they aim to always have at least five days.
This is the second time the regulator is responsible for Blood Donation supply to the NHS, has been declared a critical incident in the last 12 months.
The last time the regulator declared a low-stocking incident was due to bad weather and snow in 2018 during a “beast from the east” storm and in Cornwall in 2019, which resulted in reduced contributions.
Prior to the October 27 warning, routine also declared a major summer incident. It comes during a period of extremely high demand for the NHS, with a second-highest level of 999 calls and a record level of delay in ambulance responses.
The regulator has since returned to normal and now has a six-day supply for most blood types, with the exception of B negative for five days and O negative for 4.8.
The news comes as hospitals are under increasing pressure, with an average of 2 million patients visiting A&E each month between September and November, compared with 1.5 million during the same period last year. and as NHS director Amanda Pritchard warns the health care system could face its harshest winter ever.
In a comment to The Independent, NHS Blood and Transplant said: “Winter has always been a challenging period for blood reserves, but seasonal pressures are taking place earlier and we are concerned that colder weather and rates of cold and flu higher levels with Covid-19, including an enhanced vaccine program, could make the situation more critical this year.
“This is why we need our amazing current and returning donors, especially those who join our donor centers, to act now to help build stockpile before winter to ensure patients continue to receive the lifesaving blood they need.”
It said appointments to donate blood can now be booked through the NHS Give Blood app.
“If you are fit and healthy and have donated, please book and keep an appointment in the coming weeks – every appointment counts.”
In board reports on December 2, the regulator said that without any mitigating measures, such as an increase in the number of bookable donations or donors In the near future, there may be “not enough” stock in the period from January to March next year., with that winter period already being the busiest months for the NHS. NHS Blood and Transplant is reviewing its plans for the new year.
According to regulator guidelines, shortages in the supply of red blood cells are rare in the UK but seasonal shortages have occurred for specific blood types such as O and D negative.
The guidance adds: “The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 also raises concerns about possible persistent red blood cell shortages.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/nhs-blood-stock-critical-level-winter-b1972876.html NHS warns: Blood supply could soon become ‘critical’