Health chiefs are to send out home test kits so the public can discover their blood type in a bid to attract new donors for stocks in short supply, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The drive comes two weeks after NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) issued its first ‘amber alert’ over low stocks. Within days, 40,000 existing donors had booked appointments.
Now NHS bosses are drawing up plans to send finger-prick kits to new sign-ups to identify those with blood types that are more likely to be in short supply.
NHS bosses are drawing up plans to send finger-prick kits to new sign-ups to identify those with blood types that are more likely to be in short supply.
The tests examine a small drop of blood on a test card that can identify your likely blood type within five minutes.
NHSBT issued the amber warning when stocks of O negative (O-) blood dipped below two days’ worth – a third of the six-day supply that is preferred. O- is carried by just 7 per cent of Britons but can be given to any patient without it being rejected by the immune system. When stocks of other blood groups are unavailable, O- is given.
Stocks are almost back to six days but the alert will not be lifted until supplies are secure enough to cope with an expected rise in demand.
An NHSBT spokeswoman said the initiative was aimed at ‘ensuring stocks never reach amber again’.
The service needs a million new donors over the next five years, and double the number of regular donors with the rarest blood types.
But a union official at NHSBT, who asked to remain anonymous, has claimed staffing shortages and the way the organisation was run caused the shortages.