The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) has confirmed to Orkney MSP Liam McArthur that it has no plans to introduce a blood collection programme in Orkney.
SNBTS held a highly successful trial donor session in Orkney in 2009 with a view to establishing whether a more regular arrangement could be put in place. Mr McArthur, who took part in the trial, has taken an active interest in the issue ever since and wrote to Mary Morgan, Director of SNBTS, last month seeking an update.
In her response, Mary Morgan confirmed that there are no plans to introduce a collection programme in Orkney, attributing the decision to feasibility studies which demonstrated “significant issues in getting the blood reliably and safely back to the mainland”.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“Back in 2009, the SNBTS was overwhelmed by the response it received from people in Orkney. I well remember the scenes at the Picky Centre with queues out the door with people signing up to donate blood, many for the first time.
“At that stage, SNBTS committed to investigating whether or not a means could be found to allow people in Orkney the chance to donate on a more regular basis. Unfortunately, those investigations appear to have concluded that the limitations in moving blood safely back to the mainland are, for the time being at least, insurmountable.
“While it is disappointing that Orcadians will not be able to donate blood locally, it is clearly essential for the SNBTS to avoid a situation where any donations made are not then subsequently unusable.
“I was also interested in SNBTS’ confirmation that over the last six years the demand for blood has reduced by more than 20%. In turn, this has meant fewer collection sessions have been required across the country. Nevertheless, this may not always be the case and I have asked SNBTS to continue to keep under review the option of setting up donation facilities in Orkney.”