News

Introducing the kind volunteers delivering blood to Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust

11th June 2017

They are the kind volunteers delivering blood, samples and emergency plasma to hospitals across the county.

Members of the 60-strong Essex Voluntary Blood Service (EVBS) give up their time free of charge to transport the units to where they are urgently needed.

From May 2, the Blood Transfusion Department at MEHT began working with the charitable organisation to provide an out-of-hours service to collect blood from the county’s NHS Blood and Transport (NHSBT) facility and transport samples. They are on call from 7pm to 6am Monday to Thursday and then 7pm Friday until 6am Monday morning.

EVBS can also work with controllers from other counties to set up deliveries, including sending samples to the NHSBT at Filton in Bristol. Volunteer Keith Weller said: “It is about the satisfaction of helping others – we love riding our bikes, especially if we can help a good cause by delivering blood to somebody that needs it.” He recalls one Christmas where the EVBS riders delivered blood that saved the lives of three babies. “It is so rewarding that we have managed to save three children who can go on and do whatever in life – without that they wouldn’t have been given that chance,” he said.

He explained that they receive on average between one and three calls per night and have members who are both motorbike riders and car drivers.

The team have two hours from receiving a request to make their delivery, which for Keith occasionally involves travelling from his home near Colchester into London. Additionally, he stressed that they are not a blue light service, but some of their bikes are equipped with amber lights as an indication to other road users that they are carrying blood.

“Blood bikes began in 1960, and the first proper blood group started in the 1980s in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. The Essex group began in 2008 and was previously attached to Kent. We were known as Serv Essex before we broke away from Serv in 2011 and became EVBS. “A lot of it is about educating the public and we have a good training programme for all new members,” he said.

Nick Sheppard, Acting Blood Bank Manager, said: “We were previously using taxis from Brentwood – EVBS save us a significant amount of money as we can sometimes need to order blood from NHSBT one to three times a night. The benefit of EVBS is also that with a courier they will just be stuck in traffic with everybody else, but a motorbike can move around the traffic.

“From Monday to Friday we have two deliveries a day, but we can’t predict usage levels. We have minimum stock levels and try to predict what we might need to maintain appropriate stock levels and reduce wastage.” He added that they do still request blue light deliveries where necessary.

The EVBS assist with maintaining ‘the cold chain’ where blood cannot be out of temperature control for more than half an hour. Keith said: “It’s our way of putting back into the system – as a motorcyclist you put your life in your hands every time you get on your bike.”

INFORMATION: For more about EVBS, please email coordinator-evbs@hotmail.co.uk or contact Tina Parker, Blood Transfusion Nurse, on tina.parker@meht.nhs.uk.