With the ‘bloodmobile’ service being axed, Horsham’s blood donors are being asked to donate at community centres instead.
The mobile donation vehicles - known as bloodmobiles - provided a convenient way for people to fit giving a donation in around their work or home commitments.
The decision to stop running the bloodmobiles was heavily criticised by UNISON. The popular donation sessions in Storrington have also been abolished, leaving donors with a choice of going to West Chiltington village hall (more than two miles away) or the Steyning Centre (nearly six miles away).
However, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) claim the changes are necessary to allow more money to be put into front line care.
A statement from the organisation said: “Blood donation sessions will continue to take place in local venues, such as in village halls and community centres. NHSBT has been actively locating venues which allow them to accommodate more beds and therefore collect more blood from donors at those sessions.
“In addition there will also be an increase in opening hours at the Horsham blood donor centre, in Blatchford Road. These initiatives are helping NHSBT to run the service more efficiently and save the local hospitals money.”
Jackie Morgan, regional operations manager for NHSBT said: “We’re extremely grateful to the businesses and sites that have welcomed our blood collection vehicles and encouraged their employees to donate while at work. We also recognise that has been a very convenient way for donors to give blood.
“We hope that individuals who usually donate at their place of work or in a bloodmobile in a public place will understand that we have to balance the need to collect blood for patients in the right quantities as efficiently as possible with the need to offer sessions on donors’ doorsteps. From this week, we will be explaining to donors at the bloodmobile sessions across the area that it will be the last time we collect blood from that site. We will also provide them with information on how they can continue giving blood at nearby public sessions and will write to them to confirm the changes.
“Donors do an amazing thing by giving blood - they save lives. We hope that those who are used to giving in a bloodmobile will continue to give blood as there will still be lots of local opportunities for them to do so at alternative public sessions. We really do appreciate the incredible generosity of all our donors and look forward to welcoming them to an alternative session.”
UNISON called the decision to abolish the bloodmobiles ‘short sighted and devastating news’. Regional officer Michael Walker said: “The Horsham Blood Mobile Team has a long tradition of working with local companies to ensure a consistent supply of blood, to end this practice is simply short sighted and could endanger national blood collection targets. Employees make appointments whilst at work and will not always want to find an evening session close to home.”
The service is consantly looking for new donors to replace those who can no longer donate due to health issues, or have become ineligible due to pregnancy or foreign travel.
To find your nearest session visit www.blood.co.uk or call NHS Blood and Transplant on 0300 123 23 23.