A unique blood delivery service provided by motorcyclists to the
NHS is being extended to hospitals across the North East.
Darlington Memorial Hospital, part of the County Durham and
Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, is teaming up with Northumbria
Blood Bikes, a group of volunteer motorcyclists who deliver
life-saving blood products.
The new 'blood runners' service now means that there is a
dedicated group permanently on call.
The hospital currently receives two deliveries every day from
the NHS Blood Transfusion Centre (NHSBTC) in Newcastle. However,
out of hours, a lack of a dedicated service meant that the hospital
was using taxi services and ad hoc NHSBTC deliveries to pick up
blood to replenish stocks that were running low.
But now, the motorcyclists operate a rota system and are
available to pick up and deliver blood out-of-hours between 7pm and
If successful, the partnership could be extended to the
University Hospital of North Durham.
Russell Irwin, Haematology and Transfusion Manager, Darlington
Memorial Hospital, said: "Blood products are essential to our work
and the blood bikers offer a dedicated means of courier transport
to replenish supplies quickly and efficiently when they are running
"We keep blood banks at the hospital with stocks of all types of
blood. But when a department is busy and demand is high, or when we
need blood with special requirements or blood products such as
platelets, we need to restock.
"The partnership with Northumbrian Blood Bikes means we can
provide better services for patients. We can replenish the
Darlington blood bank through the night and at weekends and get
blood that has special requirements on a defined system."
The blood bikers set up their voluntary group a year ago. They
formed a charity, inspired by the National Association of Blood
Bikes, and they have been busy recruiting volunteers (they now have
around 80 members), raising funds and buying three motorbikes to
ensure continuity of service.
The group ran trial runs to Darlington, without blood, to test
its own organisation and call-out procedures and has now signed a
service agreement with Darlington to cover out-of-hours provision
to the hospital. All of the blood bikers are advanced-level
trained motorcyclists and attend a blood handling course. The
riders are uniformed and the motorbikes are all easily identified -
liveried with the Blood Bikes' logo and colours.
Northumbria Blood Bikes doesn't have a base for its machines so
the outgoing rider hands on the blood bike to the in-coming rider
who then takes the other person home. In the future, they're
looking into having a base for the bikes, maybe at a hospital.
Owain Harris from Northumbria Blood Bikes said: "Our service is
provided free of charge and means that the NHS can save money which
would otherwise be spent on taxis or couriers, and this can be
re-invested in frontline services and patient care.
"We donate our time and skills for free because we want to help
save lives and improve patient care. We offer a dedicated service
that we hope we can extend to other areas of the North East."
Wansbeck, Gateshead Queen Elizabeth and South Shields hospitals
are also currently using the service. The group are discussing
rolling out their service with other hospitals in the North
'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been
excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very
thankful and relieved patient'.
Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital
of North Durham