Amber alert for blood supplies means non-urgent surgery at Luton & Dunstable may have to be postponed

The alert will last four weeks
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Patients requiring non-urgent surgery could have their operations postponed because of the current emergency with blood supplies.

Hospitals will continue to carry out any urgent, emergency or trauma surgery, cancer surgery, transplant surgery and blood transfusions to treat people with long term conditions.

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NHS Blood and Transplant usually aims to hold six days of blood stock but levels are currently predicted to fall below two days which has triggered the amber alert.

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This will last initially for four weeks which should enable supplies to be rebuilt.

Maintaining them has been an ongoing challenge in the aftermath of the pandemic, primarily due to staff shortages and sickness but also due to a change in donor behaviour as people are less likely to visit collection centres in towns and cities. NHSBT has been working through a raft of measures to stabilise the situation.

Interim chief executive Wendy Clark said: “Asking hospitals to limit their use of blood is not a step we take lightly. This is a vital measure to protect patients who need blood the most.

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“Patients are our focus. I sincerely apologise to those patients who may see their surgery postponed because of this.

“With the support of hospitals and the measures we are taking to scale up collection capacity, we hope to be able to build stocks back to a more sustainable footing.

“We cannot do this without our amazing donors. If you are O Positive or O Negative in particular, please make an appointment to give blood as soon as you can.”

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Each donation can save or improve three lives.

Blood can only be stored for 35 days, which means there is a constant need for donations – and a need for specific blood types.

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The NHSBT appointment system carefully balances the supply of blood with the changing demand from patients and hospitals.

Collecting too much blood and the wrong type would mean lifesaving blood is wasted and hospitals may not have the right type available for patients when they need it.

> There are 75 donor appointments available in Luton this week and existing donors are urged to book and keep appointments, particularly if their blood group is O positive.

Go to or use the blood app to check appointment availability.

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