Demand for blood donations drops by a quarter as routine ops are cancelled

Demand for blood donations has dropped during the coronavirus pandemic (Picture: Getty Images)

A number of blood donation appointments across the country have been cancelled due to a drop in demand of more than a quarter during the coronavirus crisis.

Although donations have declined in recent weeks, this has been outweighed by a larger drop in demand as hospitals cancel routine operations.

Demand has dropped by 27% since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak and as a result collections have been reduced by 21%, the NHS told

An NHS Blood and Transplant spokesman said: ‘The continued support of our donors means that our blood stock levels remain very good.

A number of routine operations have been cancelled during the pandemic (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

‘We currently have nine days’ stock overall. Our usual target level is six days. Donation has declined but this has been outweighed by a drop in demand for blood as hospitals cancel routine operations.

‘The impact of coronavirus means we are unfortunately having to cancel some blood donation appointments, however, these cancellations will not affect our ability to continue to supply the blood that patients need.

‘We are notifying donors of cancellations as early as we can. If we do not contact you your appointment should still be going ahead.

‘We are very grateful for the time that donors give up and we apologise to those affected by these unavoidable changes.

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‘We thank them for their patience and hope they will rebook for a future date. Blood is always needed.’

They added they would not be providing the exact number of blood donation cancellations because doing so could give a ‘misleading impression of the stock position and how we are managing it’.

The spokesman said the vast majority of appointment cancellations they are making are planned to ensure only the blood needed is collected, and no donations are wasted.

Reasons blood donation appointments are being cancelled

  • Not as much blood is needed, because demand is down due to cancelled routine operations
  • Spacing donors further apart (due to social distancing) reduces the number of people who can be accommodated at some sessions
  • Staff sickness/self-isolation – sessions may have to be cancelled to cover staff shortages

It comes as a number of people have had blood donation appointments cancelled in recent weeks.

In messages seen by, the only reason given for the cancellation is ‘due to coronavirus’.

The Jazz Dad tweeted: ‘Had my blood donation cancelled due to coronavirus situation. Wonder what impact it’s having on blood stocks?’

Lorraine Preedy said: ‘I understand why my first blood donation appointment’s been cancelled, but it’s still disappointing. Oh well, next time.’

But the NHS spokesman stressed that cancellations are not impacting the service’s ability to supply blood, and it is keeping its stocks higher than usual – nine days’ supply instead of six days’ supply – to respond to an increase in demand when routine operations resume.

‘Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak demand for blood has fallen by 27 percent,’ they added.

‘As a result we have reduced collections by 21 percent.

‘This has ensured that blood stocks remain very good and have enough supply to be able to cope with rising demand when the NHS is able to resume routine operations.’

The NHS says it has nine days’ supply of blood, whereas it usually has six (Picture: Getty Images)

It comes a month after the NHS issued a desperate plea to the public to keep donating blood amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement on the official Give Blood website said it is vital people keep donating to help vulnerable patients and that coming to the centres is considered ‘essential’ travel to assist the NHS.

It added: ‘Following Boris Johnson’s announcement giving blood is a medical need and a form of helping vulnerable people. It is essential to patients and the NHS. Please keep donating.’

The statement assured the public that extra safety measures have been put in place to properly safeguard donors, however there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus spreading through blood transmission.

Blood donation counts as essential travel under the Government’s coronavirus guidelines.

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