Blood bikers make life-saving deliveries

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A gang of big-hearted bikers has joined forces with the NHS to deliver life-saving supplies for Nottinghamshire hospitals.

Nottinghamshire Blood Bikes, run entirely by unpaid volunteers, aims to provide an out-of-hours, emergency transport service for blood and other urgent medical supplies such as platelets, plasma, samples and medical records between hospitals and blood transfusion banks.

Blood biker John Devlin said: John said: “I am a big fan of the NHS. I had an accident about 20 years ago. It was quite bad and it was a case of bringing me back to life. 

“I feel indebted. I have always been a keen motorcyclist and when I found out about the service, I saw an opportunity to give something back to the NHS.”

The group, which numbers around 25 riders and another 15 controllers and fundraisers, ‘went live’ last Saturday with a literal milk-run: delivering bottles of donated breast milk from a hospital in Chester to the Sherwood Forest Hospital group. 

John said: “Premature babies can’t always receive their own mother’s milk. The chances of their survival or full-growth are restricted with artificial milk. This will give them a great start in life.”

In critical situations, blood or other medical items need to be delivered urgently in order to help save a patient’s life. The bikers, with their ‘hi-viz’ livery, can quickly but safely get through heavy traffic to reach their destination sooner.

The group was founded 16 months ago, but it took a long time to raise funds and to get a service level agreement with hospitals.  

John (45), of Huthwaite, works full-time as a project manager at Linneys in Mansfield. He says most of the volunteers are motivated by the same passions: they are involved with motorbikes and want to give something back to the NHS. 

Volunteers will cover as many 7pm to 6am shifts midweek, and all weekend from 7pm Friday until 6am Monday. as they can. John, who has committed to seven several shifts over the coming month, said: “We’re not going to stipulate a minimum commitment - we’re saying ‘if you have one evening to give, then that’s a good start.’ Anything and everything is welcome.”

To begin with the bikers will receive 24 hours of notice before a job to make sure their processes work. 

After that they will be on emergency stand-by - ready to take hospital requests for urgently-needed supplies.

Most of the group’s members are recruited from the North of Nottinghamshire, but the blood bikers will eventually cover the entire county.    

The group doesn’t have a single base: instead, the two bikes that are used by the group stay with the riders on duty. 

At the moment, the National Blood Transfusion Service NHS Blood & Transplant provides a service during office hours Monday to Friday, and hospitals are using taxis and courier firms out-of-hours. The bikers receive no government funding and will make no charge to the NHS for their services. 

“Typically a hospital the size of King’s Mill would pay around £80 to £100,000 a year for the extra transport costs,” said John. “If they were to employ people on a full time basis, it would cost them about £250,000.”

“Every pound that’s donated to us will save the NHS £5.” 

He added: “We rely solely on donations and corporate sponsorship to keep us rolling and, in return, saving the NHS tens of thousands of pounds in transport costs so that more money can be directed to front-line services and patient care.”

If you would like to donate you can contribute via their funding page at www.givey.com/NottsBloodBikes

You can also find out about the ways you can help the group as a volunteer by visiting www.nottinghamshirebloodbikes.org/volunteer