It’s been a busy year for the ‘angels on two wheels’ or North West Blood Bikes who deliver life-saving blood, blood products and donor breast milk to hospitals.
The charity was started in May 2012 with less than 12 members, and has grown over the years to now have over 350 members who are all volunteers and give their time to offer the free service to five NHS trusts across the area, including University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.
The riders who can ride either the charities liveried emergency bikes or their own private bikes are spread across the North West so that they can best serve the hospitals nearest to them.
The chances are that members of the public are be unaware of the service and will have no idea that these volunteers have been involved in their treatment, whether it’s a sample of blood that requires specialist testing at a Pathology Lab away from the hospital, or they require treatment at another hospital where the patient notes are not held, or their medication is not stored in the hospitals own pharmacy or the pharmacy’s stocks are running low.
As the name suggests North West Blood Bikes also transport blood and blood products, which are required urgently by the hospitals to help give their patients the best treatment.
The volunteers operate when the hospitals own transport doesn’t, mainly at night and at weekends and Bank Holidays.
The alternative transport options for the hospitals are taxis or private couriers, both of which have an impact on the hospitals running costs, and this money can be better spent on patient care.
The riders are backed up by a dedicated team of call takers (controllers) who volunteer their time and work from home receiving calls from the hospitals and dispatching the riders.
There is also a specialist team who deliver donor breast milk for the neonatal units at the hospitals.
Steve Dunstan, North area manager said: “I’m pleased and very proud to be able to report a successful and increasingly busy year for North West Blood Bikes Lancs and Lakes in the Morecambe Bay Hospitals area.
“A record year has seen over 1700 calls responded to in this area with our riders covering the best part of 36,000 miles on the way (or nearly 1.5 times around the world), saving the hospitals in the North area in the region of £115,000 in taxi fares.”
On June 2 2016 North West Blood Bikes was given the Queens Award to Voluntary Service (QAVS).
In August some members attended the National Lottery Awards show in London, where the charity received the award for the health category from TV presenter Rav Wilding. Chairman Paul Brooks said: “Thanks to the many members of the public who help us keep our charity going.” Visit.nwbb-lancs.org.