Cuts cripple Kintyre blood donation service

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By Mark Davey

Claims by a Scottish blood transfusion chief about the termination of Campbeltown donor collections were rubbished at the Community Council.

More than 100 blood donors in Campbeltown were sent a letter, last week, by Dr Moira Carter, an associate director of donor and transport services at the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Services (SNBTS).

It stated that the demand for blood has reduced in the last six years. In addition, blood has to reach a processing centre within 22 hours from the time of the first collection at a donor session.

Dr Carter stated: ‘When the distances are long and the logistics complex, with a risk of unpredictable adverse weather conditions, this can be challenging and with an increased likelihood of losing donations due to the time restrictions.

‘It is, therefore, with regret that I write to inform you that due to our reduced blood collection programme and the risks of losing donations associated with logistics, we are not planning any further sessions in Campbeltown at this time.’

In a Freedom of Information disclosure, in 2015, just 0.10 per cent of all donations, representing 195, 462ml units, was damaged due to transportation or during handling. That year Campbeltown donated at least 250 units.

This decision also seems to fly in the face of previous SNBTS press releases and an appeal on its Facebook page, this Monday, for donors with O- and O+ blood types as supplies are running short.

At a meeting on Tuesday evening, community council member, Archie Martin said: ‘This is just a cost cutting issue. They have lots of staff including nurses at the collections in Victoria hall, they never use local nurses.’

Another member, Ann Gallacher, said that when an SNBTS donor team comes to Campbeltown its staff are put up at a hotel in Ardrishaig, 38 miles away and that the cost must be high.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Courier spoke to Lynne Willdigg, the SNBTS head of donor services west and she claimed that it was nothing to do with staff accommodation.

Ms Willdigg added: ‘In the last six years the demand for blood has reduced by more than 20 per cent due to continued improvements in transfusion practice and supply chain management.

‘The main component of blood has a shelf life of only 35 days so it is important that we make the best use of the donors’ gift.

‘As a result, SNBTS has reduced the amount of blood collected in order to avoid outdate of components.

‘The need for new blood donors however is ongoing as existing donors retire from donation and the need to recruit new younger donors is important to the long term sustainability of the blood collection programme.

‘We are enormously grateful to our Campbeltown donors for the time they have taken to give in the past and we are grateful for their support and we look forward to seeing them in the future at alternative venues.’

Iain Campbell who, last September, donated his 100th pint since 1978, will have to travel 50 miles to Lochgilphead if he wants to donate again. 25_c40blood01_iancampbell

The SNBTS Facebook image posted on Monday. NO_c28blood01