"Problems in giving blood donation in Devon"

About: NHS Blood and Transplant

(as the patient),

I write to raise awareness of the shambolic state of our national blood service in the south west. I can best summarise how badly this service seems to be managed by saying that of the last four occasions I have tried to give blood, I have only actually been able to give blood once. Things have got disastrously bad since the appointment system was introduced for blood donors.

A while back I made a appointment in Crediton; I turned up in good time for the appointment, waited in a hall packed with people for over an hour, then left. At no point did anyone give information (let alone an apology) about the reason for the delay or the length of the wait.

I gave blood successfully once at the new venue in Marsh Barton (it was empty because it was a new venue). The next time I made an appointment to give blood at Marsh Barton I arrived in good time then sat and waited for over half an hour. I was given no information about the likely length of the wait and (since I was taking time out from work) eventfully had to leave.

I then decided to try to give blood without an appointment. I stopped at the Riverside centre in Exeter where a session was in progress but there was a big notice on the door: appointments only due to staff shortage.

I made another appointment to give blood (Riverside Centre, Exeter) and when I arrived I was told sorry we can’t cope with everyone who has made appointments today (staff sickness) please make another appointment. This was being said to people before and after me in the queue.

Throughout all this time I have received regular letters from the Blood Service urging me to give blood, and heard advertisements on commercial radio saying that blood stocks are low. I used to give blood regularly and would love to do so again, but after the last fiasco I asked the service to remove my name from their mailing list.

The reasons I have been given for the above failures of the service are (i) too many people turned up (ii) no reason given (iii) staff sickness (iv) staff sickness. I therefore wonder: what is the staff sickness rate for this service?

Why is money still being spent on advertising a Service which for years now has been unable to manage the numbers of people trying to give blood? Do Service managers realise how utterly shambolic their Service appears to be and how frustrating and unpleasant the experience of people trying to give blood? Why is the dysfunctional appointment system not being reviewed? What is being done to resolve the problems in the Service?

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Response from Lorraine Wright, Head of Nursing and Care Quality, NHS Blood and Transplant

Dear Kaff

Firstly let me apologise for the delay in responding to your comments, we are new to Patient Opinion as of today and we will endeavor to respond in a timely manner to all comments posted on here in the future.

I would also like to apologise for the difficulties you experienced in trying to give blood on a number of occasions. You were clearly very dedicated to doing this and this is something that I personally value and admire in blood donors.

I hope that the issues you raise have been resolved in Devon however I will look into this and post an update in the next few days.

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