Only 1-in-5 of new ‘donors’ have actually given blood

NHS Blood and Transplant is urging anyone considering becoming a blood donor to make 2023 the year they save lives.

Lifesavers: The NHS is appealling for more blood donors from black heritage to come forward

New figures reveal around 235,000 people who signed up to give blood last year are yet to make their first donation.

During 2022, more than 60,000 people registered with Give Blood in Greater London but only around 22,000 of them have taken the next step and attended an appointment.

The first amber alert on blood stocks shortages during October sparked a huge response from the public wanting to help and led to 11,932 people in Greater London registering over the four weeks. But only 1-in-5 has donated so far.

NHS London states that some of the slow uptake may be because there were limited appointments available for first-time donors because of staffing issues and the need to prioritise existing donors.

Existing donors are prioritised at these times as their blood type is known and they are more likely to complete a successful donation, which means appointments for first-time donors are reduced.

Blood stocks have since stabilised and there are now more slots available for new donors.

NHS Blood and Transplant is urging new registrants who have not yet donated to take the next step and book an appointment.

There is an urgent need for more donors of black heritage as they are more likely to have the blood type needed to treat sickle cell patients – the country’s fastest growing genetic blood disorder. The demand for ethnically matched blood for these patients is on the rise and has already doubled in recent years.

Permanent donor centres have greater availability and longer opening hours than mobile sessions that are held in community venues such as church halls.

“We always need new people to join our amazing community of lifesaving blood donors and help meet the needs of patients right now and in the future,” said David Rose at NHS Blood and Transplant.

“If you are one of the nearly 38,000 people in Greater London who registered last year but are yet to attend an appointment, or you’re thinking about signing up to donate, please make 2023 the year you save lives. Every donation counts. Giving blood is quick and easy, and you will feel amazing afterwards.”

The call comes as NHS Blood and Transplant launches the second phase of its first mass home blood type testing campaign to help identify 5,000 individuals with the critical O negative blood. O negative blood is the universal blood type that can be given to any patient in an emergency or where their blood type isn’t known.

Over the next six weeks, 36,000 home testing kits will be sent to people who have recently registered but have not yet made an appointment. Those found to have O negative blood will be offered priority appointments.

If needed, the search will widen out and kits will be posted to up to 100,000 people registered with Give Blood over the coming months, until enough people with O negative blood are identified and booked on to donate: People who register but don’t book an appointment are contacted by phone and email with opportunities to donate in their area to encourage them to make their first donation.

Blood is needed to help the NHS treat patients with cancer, blood disorders and those suffering medical trauma or undergoing surgery, and O negative blood is mostly used for emergency care. Each donation can save or improve up to three lives.

Register now and book an appointment at on the GiveBloodNHS app or call 0300 123 23 23.

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