Blood: Miss no opportunity

Blood is still very much top of the agenda right now.

After a promising August, the first week of September was very disappointing, despite a huge amount of hard work by the teams. We are trying to build stock so that by Christmas we hold 6-7 days of stock for all blood groups. This gives us resilience over the holiday period and also if we are faced with bad weather.

What’s clear is there isn’t a single reason why we are having difficulties so there isn’t just one thing we can do to fix it. We need more nurses and donor carers (Blood Donation is recruiting almost 50 new colleagues in London alone). We need more session capacity and we hope that we may have found a new donor centre in London but that will take time to come on stream so meanwhile we are increasing Sunday opening where we can. A lot of these initiatives are focused in the London area as the population is so diverse meaning that we are more likely to be able to recruit the blood donor types that patients need. We know that 45% of our RO donor base is in London too.

We are experiencing higher levels of deferral especially in the sessions where we have changed to capillary Hemo-cue for the second Hb test so we need to fit more donors into the teams which have switched. Also, we need to avoid cancelling our donors as the number of cancellations continue to rise. There are reports of some donors being hit with multiple cancellations which gives them a really poor service.

So my message to everyone is that we all, regardless of what directorate we are in, need to think what we can do individually and together to make sure that no opportunity is missed to collect the blood the NHS needs.

You might be wondering how you can help if you are not in directly involved in Blood Donation. Firstly, if you can give blood yourself then please arrange to do so between now and Christmas. Also, if you know anyone who used to donate and has lapsed, please encourage them to return. For anyone who hasn’t donated before, then encourage them to attend a ‘Know your Type’ session so they can find out which blood group they are: priority groups will be fast tracked for donation. Know anyone who is looking for a rewarding job? Why not encourage them to join us? And if you have any brilliant ideas then email me.

One opportunity to make the lives of colleagues working to collect blood much easier is the new Session Solution proof of concept that was demonstrated to the Core Systems Modernisation Programme Board last week. We were shown how the handheld devices will help colleagues on session to provide an even better service to donors; reduce the frustrating paper booking in process, provide historic data about a donor’s history (which arm to use, faints, number of donations etc); make printing DHCs easier and track everything through the process with built in scanners. They are dead easy to use so for anyone who has conquered a mobile phone, these should be a doddle. Having proved we can do it, we need a full business case to be signed off and get the development moving. Many thanks to all the team who have been working on this but specially Lauren Botham and Jamie Norgrove who have put a huge amount of effort into this and involving front line colleagues in testing the prototype.

As part of getting to learn more about Blood Donation I spent last Thursday at the Senior Management Team meeting in Birmingham. Here they went through performance data and planned action to increase donations focusing specifically on: increasing session capacity, retaining existing donors and reactivating those who have lapsed and increasing the number of colleagues available to run sessions.

Words Save Lives
The first week of September was Organ Donation Week and there was even more activity than previous years. We got fantastic press coverage in national and local press, huge numbers of conversations on social media and many NHSBT colleagues and volunteers out recruiting people to join the Organ Donor Register. There was much more NHS engagement than previously and lots of organisations lit up buildings, monuments, bridges and even a lighthouse to encourage everyone to have the organ donation conversation. The lights were pink except in Scotland where they use green for their organ donation education. This week there have been two follow up parliamentary events in Westminster highlighting the importance of organ donation for our Asian communities.

Many thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to make ODW a success, much of it done in addition to the day job. Early indications are that even more people signed up than last year, over 52,000 in a week.

Our Voice
If you haven’t yet completed the Our Voice survey, please take a few minutes to do so. The results are completely anonymous as so this is the very best way to let us know how you feel about working at NHSBT. We really want to make sure everyone feels NHSBT is a great place to work so let us know what works well for you and what we need to improve. You have all recieved an email from ORC International with your link to complete the survey. If you haven’t, please email or HR Direct but check your junk mail first! Please don’t forward on your email as every link is individual.

We are coming up to National Inclusion Week (24 – 28 September) so watch out for activities in this area. Often we concentrate on the so called ‘protected characteristics’ – can you name all nine?*. If we are really going to make sure everyone at NHSBT feels included then we need to think about all aspects of our colleagues’ experience that might make them feel left out. I am therefore really pleased to see us do more to support awareness of mental health issues and particularly welcome the Autism Awareness session recently run in Filton.

*age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership (in employment only), pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation

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