Decline in Blood Donors Leaves NHS in Need of New Volunteers
The NHS is in need of new blood donors, following a significant decline in fresh volunteers during the last decade. In 2014-15, there were 120,000 fewer people joining the blood donor register than in 2004-5.
“We simply can’t ignore the fact that there has been a stark reduction in the number of new donors coming forward – a trend seen across the world,” says Jon Latham, assistant director for donor services and marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), which provides blood supplies for England and north Wales.
NHS Blood and Transplant is calling for 204,000 new volunteers to start donating to avoid a serious shortage in the next few years.
“While we can meet the needs of patients now, it’s important we strengthen the donor base for the future,” says Mr Latham.
It is believed that one of the major reasons for the drop in blood donors is a lack of free time, with work and commuting filling people’s days and an increasing number of distractions, such as social media, taking up the remaining hours.
“We know that people’s lives have got busier over the last decade,” says Mr Latham. “People are working longer hours, commuting further, spending more time online and have less time of their own, despite more options of how to use it.”
He suggests that the changing population may be less aware of donor needs and points out that there are also a lot of good causes competing for people’s attention. Furthermore, the move to an appointment-based system for blood donations means that spontaneous donations are no longer an option.
NHS Blood and Transplant is particularly eager to attract more O-negative blood donors, because this blood type can be given to anyone, no matter what their blood group.