Blood donations “urgently needed” after cyber attack on London hospitals

Image: Blood donation centre, 26 Margaret Street, London W1W 8NB

Type O blood needed

The NHS Blood and Transplant service has put out an urgent appeal for people with O Positive and O Negative blood to donate blood urgently.

They are asking donors to book appointments at one of the 25 NHS Blood Donor Centres across England as soon as possible, to boost stocks of O type blood, following a cyber attack on hospitals in London, which has affected hospitals’ ability to match patients’ blood with the same frequency as usual.

Type O blood is needed for surgeries and procedures because it is safe for all patients.

O Negative, the universal blood type, can be given to anyone and is vital in emergencies or when a patient’s blood type is unknown. Air ambulances and emergency response vehicles carry O Negative supplies. Although only 8% of the population has O Negative blood, it accounts for around 15% of hospital orders.

O Positive is the most common blood type, with 35% of donors having it. It can be given to anyone with any positive blood type, meaning that 76% of the population can benefit from an O Positive donation.

13,000 appointments available this week

The urgent appeal for blood donations coincides with National Blood Week, during which the NHS highlights the critical need for blood donations – they need three donations every minute to keep up with the demand in hospitals to handle emergencies, childbirth, and routine treatments. Becoming a donor can be lifesaving.

Paul O’Brien Director of Blood Supply at NHS Blood and Transplant has praised the ‘amazing donors’ who help save lives everyday through blood donation and urges more donors to come forward this National Blood Week. He said:

“We are hugely grateful for the continued support of our amazing donors who help to save lives everyday by giving blood. We simply can’t do this without your incredible support and for this we truly thank you.”

There are approximately 13,000 donation appointments available nationally this week, with 3,400 slots in London alone. Blood has a 35-day shelf life, so continuous replenishment of stocks is essential.  To book an appointment, visit blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23

Patients advised to to continue attending their appointments as normal, despite the problems

Professor Stephen Powis, Medical Director for NHS England, said:

“NHS staff are continuing to go above and beyond to minimise the significant disruption to patients following the ransomware cyber-attack on Synnovis earlier this week.

“Urgent and emergency services are available as usual so patients should access services in the normal way by dialling 999 in an emergency and otherwise use NHS 111 through the NHS App, online or on the phone.

“But unfortunately, we know that a number of operations and appointments have been postponed or diverted to other neighbouring hospitals not impacted by the cyber-attack, as we prioritise pathology services for the most clinically urgent cases.

“To help London staff support and treat more patients, they need access to O Negative and O Positive blood, so if one of these is your blood type, please come forward to one of the 13,000 appointments currently available in NHS Blood Donor Centres.”

Dr Gail Miflin, Chief Medical Officer, NHS Blood and Transplant said:

“We have availability for donors who know they are type O but we also welcome new donors who don’t yet know their blood type. You might have one of these special types that can be used in emergencies.”