Thursday 16 July: Health and first aid charity St John Ambulance is helping with the safe collection of blood from donors across the country, offering invaluable assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

St John volunteers have supported over 700 NHS Blood and Transplant sessions across the country, from Cornwall to Coventry and Cumbria, where 60,606 units of lifesaving blood have been collected, since May. 

Their work continues, and the charity is providing this essential aid completely free of charge. 

The volunteers’ role includes screening donors to check their health and wellbeing as they arrive to give blood, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. As well as providing a reassuring presence, they are extra pairs of hands, freeing up NHS staff to do their vital work.  

Adam Williams, Head of Community Response at St John Ambulance says: “This is a great example of how the combined efforts of volunteers across the country, caring for blood donors, working alongside donation teams to keep sessions COVID-secure, and supporting their local communities can make a massive difference.

“I’ve seen such amazing feedback from blood donors and our friends at NHS Blood and Transplant, thanking our people for everything they’re doing and we’re only too happy to help; it’s what we do. 

“The simple care, compassion and good humour of St John people is helping keep the country’s blood supply flowing and ensuring NHS Blood and Transplant collects plasma for vital clinical trials as scientists research new ways of combatting the coronavirus. 

“It may not be the first aid people are used to us providing, but St John Ambulance volunteers are quietly helping to save lives.” 

Nationally the volunteers have given 5,635 hours of their time to help collect 60,606 units of whole blood, to help improve the lives of NHS patients, and 4,600 units of platelets. 

In addition to blood, the health service is also collecting convalescent plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 to help find an effective treatment for patients severely ill with the virus. 

Mike Stredder, Director of Donor Experience at NHS Blood and Transplant said: “We’ve been very fortunate to have had the help of many St John Ambulance volunteers across the country to aid with the triage of blood donors at our donation sessions. 

“With over forty teams covering over 700 donation sessions nationwide, St John volunteers have supported NHS Blood and Transplant to collect over 60,000 whole blood donations so far. 

“Triage is a vital part of the donation process. Having St John Ambulance volunteers undertake triage frees up our fantastic donor carers to focus on the work they are specially trained for, including health check screening, haemoglobin testing, preparing the donation, inserting the needle, and ensuring the donor feels comfortable throughout, providing a safe and pleasant donation experience for our donors. 

“On behalf of NHS Blood and Transplant, I’d like to thank every St John Ambulance volunteer who has given their time to help out on a blood donation session. Their support is very much appreciated.” 

For more information about St John Ambulance’s work, including first aid advice and details of the charity’s current emergency fundraising appeal, visit www.sja.org.uk