Image Source: The Times
The National Health Services body that ensures publicly funded healthcare support in England has issued an amber alert. The alert comes after there has been an acute shortage of blood supplies in the country.
The Blood and Transplant department of the NHS has been struggling with blood supply since the pandemic. This was because the number of staff at the department had decreased, and donor behaviours had shifted. The fact that blood could be stored for only 35 days created additional pressure.
In July, supplies had dipped to the point that the authorities were very close to intimating an alert. A spokesperson had communicated: "To address this, we are redeploying staff from elsewhere in NHSBT, using agency staff and contacting ex-employees. We have also increased our marketing activity to attract donors to give blood in town and city centre donor centres which have good appointment availability."
However, the situation seems to have worsened, suggesting that the solution did not work. This is the first time an amber alert has passed in the country.
Blood donors have been urged to come forward to help re-establish blood availability. People with O-negative and O-positive blood groups have been requested specifically to be of assistance. The NHSBT has also asked hospitals to postpone surgeries that are not urgent and devise action plans that would make the existing stock last for a longer time. The alert is expected to last for at least a month.
The interim chief executive of the service, Wendy Clark, has said that "asking hospitals to limit their use of blood is not a step we take lightly." She recognized that the urge would lead to several surgeries being rescheduled for an indefinite period of time. Keeping the same in mind, she has apologized to the affected lot of England's citizens.
Regardless, NHSBT maintains that the patients who wouldn't survive without blood are the only ones who would receive it until the situation subsides. Also, urgent surgeries, cancer treatments, and transplants will continue as planned.
It must be noted that the existing overall stock of blood in England is expected to last for 3.1 days. O-negative blood stocks have taken a hit to the point that they could last for 2 days only. However, a letter addressed to the NHS by NHSBT on December 12 read: "Unfortunately, our red cell stock levels are now at a point where we expect to drop below the two-day threshold."
Consequently, people in England who had appointments for hip replacement surgeries, which tend to require a lot of blood, will have to wait longer. Such procedures would be replaced with other operations like eye surgeries, hernia repairs, and gallbladder removals.
Given that the situation could amount to life-threatening outcomes if a solution is not implemented immediately, England's community will have to take responsibility and book an appointment to donate. The NHS has also urged people with existing appointments to inform them at least three days before if they wish to cancel them.
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1 month, 3 weeks ago by GPemberton
That's pretty terrifying. Why are there not more blood drives, if this is so serious?
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