A pin prick that could save a life

Murray MacGregor – Monday 11th July 2022 – 8.00am.

In the ambulance service, we know just how important blood can be.  Our staff deal with patients who have lost lots of it; our enhanced care teams carry it with them; and we often put calls into major trauma centres asking for blood to be ready for a patient we are taking in.

Last month NHS Blood & Transplant said that they needed one million new donors over the next five years, with a particular need for Black African, Black Caribbean and younger donors to come forward.

Well that’s exactly what staff in our control rooms did last week.  On Tuesday, NHS Blood and Transplant spent the day in Brierley Hill at one of our three call centres

The team were at Navigation Point to provide staff with an opportunity to discover what their blood type is by doing a finger prick test, as well having any questions answered about being a blood donor.  In total 43 staff registered as donors with 13 making an appointment to donate. 

The session was organised by Head of Human Resources, Lucy Mackcracken who is herself a regular donor: “For me giving blood was always something that I had been interested in doing but never really got round to.  I often put off finding out if I could give at certain times such as when pregnant or breastfeeding. 

“I think lots of people have similar questions about if they can give and what the exclusions are so an event like this was really useful to give people the facts.

“Once I had donated for the first time I found it a really easy process to use the NHS Blood and Transplant app to find and book the next appointment.” 

Head of 111 Operations, Rob Till, said: “I was delighted that so many staff were interested in donating blood and took the time out of their day to find out more information.

“When people think about ambulance staff, they often only think of the paramedics and technicians on the road, but the team in our control rooms – call takers, dispatchers and clinicians play a vital role in ensuring patients have access to blood at the scene of an incident or arrange for blood to be ready at a hospital; they also know just how important a pint of the red stuff can be for patients.

“Control room staff already regularly save lives over the phone through the likes of talking people through CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) and this is just another way that they can save lives.”

Trust Medical Director, Dr Alison Walker, who regularly responds to serious incidents as well as being an Emergency Medicine Consultant added: “I know at first hand the difference blood can make to my patients.

“If we don’t have enough blood, many operations can’t take place; people who live with conditions such as anaemia, cancer and blood disorders wouldn’t get the life saving treatment they need.  It’s why so many of our team do already give blood, like Lucy, Rob and I do.

“I’m delighted that so many staff within our control room took the opportunity to register as donors and I hope everyone will consider doing the same as it truly is a gift of life.”

What happens to a blood donation

Blood donation generally takes up to an hour and you will be doing something amazing. Once donated, blood is taken to NHSBT laboratories where it is divided into:

  • Platelets: Platelets help to stop bleeding and can be donated directly. Donors with A negative, A positive or AB negative blood are mostly needed. 69 per cent treat people with cancer, 17 per cent helps people after surgery, 8 per cent treat diseases, and 6 per cent help adults and babies in intensive care.
  • Red cells: two thirds are used to treat a vast range of conditions including sickle cell, anaemia, cancer and blood other disorders. One third is used in surgery and emergencies including childbirth.
  • Plasma: 17,000 people are treated with medicine made from plasma. Plasma can be used to stop blood loss in trauma patients and is also made into a medicine for people with weak immune systems. People can also donate plasma directly.

You can find out more about what it’s like to give blood for the first time at: https://www.blood.co.uk/the-donation-process/giving-blood-for-the-first-time/

For more information or to book an appointment to give blood, either download the app, go to www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.

Pic 1: Mandy Jones Integrated Emergency and Urgent Care Tutor Mandy Jones gets a finger prick test from Priya from NHS Blood and Transplant.

Pic 2: Lucy Butler giving blood


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