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Closures leave donors kebabbed
Giving blood, Issue 1395
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HOUSEHOLD names such as Waterstones, the Daily Mirror and even Downing Street won heaps of good publicity by dropping the letters A, O and B from their branding to “raise awareness” of potential blood shortages earlier this month. Meanwhile the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) authority is sending out mixed messages to donors as to whether they’re wanted or not.

Donor chiefs marked National Blood Week with a warning that there has been a “stark reduction” in the number of new donors coming forward to give blood – 40 percent fewer than a decade ago. This news gave various columnists the chance to pontificate on the death of altruism.

Busier lives, longer working hours, travel to more exotic places, tattoos and (bizarrely) people spending time on the internet were all listed by assistant director for donor services Jon Latham as “just some of the reasons why we’ve seen a decline in new people starting to donate”.

Cambridge blues
One other major (unmentioned) reason people are not giving blood, however, is the widespread closures and cutbacks to the number of places where they can actually donate.

In Stoke-on-Trent last year, NHSBT chiefs told the local press they were closing half the donor opportunities at community venues and that while some more appointments would be available at the area’s permanent donor centre, “overall, the need for blood has now reduced” with hospitals needing fewer units nationally.

Campaigners in Brentwood fought to save their blood and platelet donor centre, with 1,400 people signing a petition. It shut down in March, leaving dedicated platelet donors with a long trip to Cambridge if they want to keep giving regularly. Again they were told by health bosses that fewer donations were needed.

Cut to the bone
In Sevenoaks, Kent, NHSBT faced criticism in January after running a publicity campaign to get people to make giving blood a new year’s resolution – while closing most of the local venues where they could donate. The one remaining venue had a long waiting list. One local donor with a rarer blood group complained that she had been bombarded with letters, emails and text messages asking her to give blood, but when she tried to, there was a two-month waiting list for an appointment. Elsewhere, people who have waited for and travelled to appointments have been turned away because the service is running late.

NHSBT says it has “a duty to keep costs to a minimum” and that larger donation sessions were more cost-effective than small community venues or mobile units. Indeed, each time there has been an outcry at the closure of local donor services, NHSBT has insisted that loyal donors will travel. But nobody should be too surprised that new donors will not sign up for long journeys and long waits in a service that has been cut to the bone.

More top stories in the latest issue:

Why questions about the tax affairs of the Candy brothers, of One Hyde Park fame, should embarrass the man who now chairs the board of HMRC.

Osborne aide Rupert Harrison lands a job with asset manager BlackRock after designing the pension reforms on which it is cashing in. Fancy!

The high court ruling that cruelly bars those jailed for crimes they did not commit from receiving compensation for their ruined lives.

The hundreds of thousands of Scottish acres owned in shady offshore havens giving tax breaks to their elusive lairds.

Cuts are causing havoc in west London hospitals, but there’s good money to be made by the consultants and PR companies spinning the plans through.

Satanic ritual abuse has been debunked, but a recent child abuse training day run by compensation chasing lawyers was still told it was a reality.


University of Bolton edges up the rankings largely due to the success of its film production course – whose leader has been controversially sacked.

More evidence emerges that private health firms touting for NHS work are facing serious financial problems of their own.

How automatic court fees hit the thousands who appear in court each week for failing to make a TV licence payment disproportionately hard.

Scottish islanders challenge the high price of flights to the mainland as the only airline covering the routes turns a healthy profit at their expense.

To read all these stories in full, you can buy the latest edition of Private Eye - or subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

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Next issue on sale: 7th July 2015.

Private Eye Issue 1394