O positive and O negative donors asked to urgently give blood following London hospitals IT incident

England’s top doctor has backed calls from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) for O Positive and O Negative blood donors to urgently book appointments to donate in one of the 25 town and city centre NHS Blood Donor Centres in England, to boost stocks of O type blood following a cyber incident in London.

There are around 13,000 appointments available nationally this week in NHS Blood Donor Centres with 3,400 available in London alone. The NHS is advising all patients to continue coming forward as normal following the cyber-attack. The IT incident affecting a pathology provider means the affected hospitals cannot currently match patients’ blood at the same frequency as usual.

For surgeries and procedures requiring blood to take place, hospitals need to use O type blood as this is safe to use for all patients and blood has a shelf life of 35 days, so stocks need to be continually replenished.

That means more units of these types of blood than usual will be required over the coming weeks to support the wider efforts of frontline staff to keep services running safely for local patients.

O negative is the type that can be given to anyone – known as the universal blood type. It is used in emergencies or when a patient’s blood type is unknown. Air ambulances and emergency response vehicles carry O negative supplies. Just 8 per cent of the population have type O Negative but it makes up for around 15 per cent of hospital orders.

O positive is the most common blood type – 35 per cent of donors have it – and it can be given to anybody with any positive blood type. This means three in every four people, or 76 per cent of the population, can benefit from an O positive donation.

Dr. Gail Miflin, Chief Medical Officer, NHS Blood and Transplant commented: “Patient safety is our absolute priority. When hospitals do not know a patient’s blood type or cannot match their blood, it is safe to use O type blood.

“To support London hospitals to carry out more surgeries and to provide the best care we can for all patients, we need more O Negative and O Positive donors than usual. Please book an urgent appointment to give blood at one of our 25 town and city donor centres which currently have good appointment availability.

“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.”

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