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Coventry and Warwickshire snub Blood Bikers in favour of paid contract

The volunteers from Warwickshire and Solihull Blood Bikes could find themselves almost redundant after the move

BLOOD BIKERS from the West Midlands are among the first to find out that their voluntary service could be in danger, after a privately-run, NHS company won the contract to transport blood and plasma between hospitals.

The volunteers are members of Warwickshire & Solihull Blood Bikes and have spoken out about the move as something that could prevent future work. They claim that 80% of their work is within the Coventry and Warwickshire area, serving hospitals such as University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) and the George Eliot in Nuneaton, meaning this move could leave them redundant.

The Blood Bikes charity provides free transport between hospitals for blood, plasma, tissue samples and other life saving supplies. It’s all carried out by volunteers, in their own time at evenings and weekends, purely to help ease the strain on the over-stretched NHS.

As reported on Coventry Live, Mark Lavery, Chairperson and fleet manager, said: "It is gut-wrenching to be honest, we had a meeting with members last week and they 100% want to try to carry on but the Coventry and Warwickshire work was 80% of what we do.

"We can still support the air ambulance and we do some work with Heartlands Hospital (Birmingham) but the main core [work] is with the Warwickshire hospitals - it has virtually made us redundant.

"We are all devastated." He added.

In response, they report that a UHCW spokesperson said a decision was taken to "standardise delivery to ensure current and future needs" and that the blood bikes service only represents 0.01 percent of the total used by Coventry and Warwickshire Pathology Service.

Further adding to the anguish, the decision to switch from the Blood Bikes to the private firm was found out completely by accident by Mr Lavery’s wife. He said, "My wife was at the hospital a couple of weeks ago and saw a van with 'Gateshead' on it.

"We did some Googling and found a press release saying the company had won a contract. This contract was out to tender in 2016/17 yet we knew nothing about it.

"We were just so shocked.

"Our service is completely free to the NHS, none of us understand why they don't want us to continue."

Do you think the Blood Bikes should be kept on? Or is the NHS’ decision really the best option for the NHS?

Let us know in the comments below.

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