THE BATTLE TO WIN BLOOD DONOR SESSIONS in Berwick has been joined by the constituency MP, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who – like The Clarion – is refusing to be fobbed off with the ‘Coronavirus’ excuse.
Ms Trevelyan took up the cudgels on behalf of reader Eric Wood of Tweedmouth and our columnist Eric Musgrave from Etal (among many) who complained to The Clarion that opportunities to donate blood in Berwick were almost non-existent and that volunteers were instead being sent to Wooler, a 34-mile round trip.
Asked by The Clarion to join the campaign, the MP wrote to Betsy Bassis, Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, asking for an explanation of Eric Wood’s complaint. This was the response:
“We are grateful to Mr Wood for his life-long commitment to donating blood and I can appreciate how frustrating it is for him and other blood donors when local blood donation sessions are closed or fully booked.
There are several reasons for this. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have opted for larger venues where we can ensure social distancing, keeping our staff and donors safe. Unfortunately, the venue that we normally use in Berwick does not meet this specification. We are exploring alternative locations and hope that we will be able to put on local sessions in future.
It sounds like Berwick Infirmary may be one such option to do so. My Chief of Staff has arranged for someone from our planning to team to explore whether we can bring blood donation back to Berwick at the infirmary
Thank you for raising these concerns, and to Mr Wood for his amazing 102 donations. These gifts have helped to save and improve the lives of many and we are truly grateful.”
Unhappily, this was a similar response to that received by The Clarion, but the MP and her team were equally unwilling to accept the ‘blame COVID-19’ explanation given local claims that the Wooler situation has been going on for the past few years and informed Eric Wood and The Clarion that Ms Trevelyan “would like to look into this matter further”.
Thanking Ms Trevelyan for spearheading the campaign, Mr Wood pointed out that “The Clarion is getting the same COVID-19 excus but the lack of donor sessions in Berwick has been going on for more than three years.
“Glendale School, the venue in Wooler which has a minimum three sessions per year, is no larger than the old venue in Berwick at Tweedmouth School, which has the added advantage of a separate entrance and exit.”
Another disgruntled three-times-a-year donor, Eric Musgrave from Etal, said: “I moved up here at the end of May, 2018 and looked to give blood sometime that autumn. I have no recollection of ever being offered an appointment in Berwick. A Sunday in Wooler was my only option.
“Discounting the Berwick venue as ‘unsuitable for social distancing’ is ridiculous; they could easily regulate how many donors are in at one time.”
There is an obvious continued need for blood donors without making the process even more difficult by making donors travel great distances at their own expense. The official www.blood.co.uk website reminds readers that the service requires:
NEARLY 400 new donors a day to meet demand.
ABOUT 135,000 new donors a year to replace those who can no longer donate.
YOUNG people to start giving blood to ensure future supplies.
Ms Trevelyan’s team have promised to pursue the issue and report back. Watch this space.
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