Blood Bike pilot is hailed as a huge success

HAIBB President Ross Sharp on one of the Blood Bikes.

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A six-month pilot with a charitable organisation which was initially intended as an out of hours service transporting lab samples has risen to the challenges that COVID-19 has presented.

Initially intended to be trialled as a service to deliver urgent samples and supplies between hospitals, Highlands and Islands Blood Bikes (HIABB) has responded to 480 calls and clocked up more than 92,000 miles in the last six months.

The group’s response and assistance during the pandemic has been hugely appreciated by NHS Highland.

Alex Javed, service manager for laboratories for NHS Highland said: ‘When the pandemic was declared many of us found that we had to change both how we worked and what we did in response to what was needed and the same can be said for the volunteers with Blood Bikes.

‘They very quickly were able to start distributing test kits and returning samples to the labs for us, often with not much notice. No ‘ask’ is too big for them; they have been so valuable to us during this time.

‘Prior to their involvement we would be seeing an average spend of about £5,000 a month on taxis to get urgent samples and/or tests between sites, and Blood Bikes have been doing this free.’

The pilot has been so successful NHS Highland is now moving to have a service level agreement in place with the charity so it can continue to work alongside the health board in providing this service.

Ross Sharp, Highland and Islands Blood Bikes president, said: ‘We are a small Charity and we were just getting started when the pandemic hit.

‘Fortunately we were able to change the delivery of our service very quickly in response to the pandemic and we are absolutely delighted that our relationship with the NHS is set to continue.

‘Donations and volunteers are what keep us going, and fundraising in particular has been very difficult for us but we continue to respond when the NHS asks and we hope to do so for the foreseeable future.’

Anyone who has any free time and wants to give something back to the community should look at the ebsite or HIABB Facebook page to find out about all the different roles needed. Donations can also be made, and HAIBB is particularly keen to speak to potential sponsors.