The Welsh Blood Service [WBS] collects voluntary, non-remunerated blood donations from over 100,000 of the general public. These donations are processed and tested before distribution to hospitals where they support patient care. This currently covers South, West and part of Mid Wales; however in May 2016 North Wales will transfer from the English service to WBS with a 25% increase in production and creating an all Wales service.
This highly regulated supply chain operation has to maintain stock levels for this short-life product (5-7 days for platelets and 35 days for red blood cells) against variable and difficult to predict supply and demand across a range of blood groups.
Donors choose to donate at their convenience and are only able to donate at a set frequency of 16 weeks.
Hospital needs for blood vary according to total supply and blood group requirement resulting in a continual challenge to manage supply and ensure a minimal waste through expiry of the generous gift that donors give.
Currently only 1 in 30 people who are eligible to donate blood do so, whereas 1 in 3 people may need blood at some time in their life. As lifestyles and population demographics change, donor numbers are diminishing and recruitment techniques and donation process needs to meet the needs of the new donors we need to recruit.
The WBS blood collection model uses 5 teams of staff based on a system introduced in 2012 and now being reviewed. This utilises mobile blood vehicles, church halls, businesses and other community venues. The bleed model accommodates a mixture of appointments and walk in slots on an appointment grid and Donors follow a process of booking, screening, donation and rest through the clinic. Variable attendance and donor throughput time in the clinic impact on flow, waiting times and clinic capacity. The range of permutations of alignment of staff to clinic capacity, appropriate skill-mix, the clinic visit cycle and travel time to clinic from the WBS base all need to be factored into the planning.
Following donation, the blood has to be tested and processed according to tightly defined protocols before distributing to hospitals across Wales.