§ Mr. Gale
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many operations have been cancelled in the Canterbury and Thanet health authority area, between 10 December 1989 and 10 January 1990, as a result of a shortage of blood supplies; what steps he is taking to ensure that supplies reach the district immediately and to prevent a recurrence of shortage; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Freeman
Between 10 December 1989 and 10 January 1990, operations on 21 non-emergency patients were postponed by Canterbury and Thanet health authority because these would have required large amounts of blood. The theatres were, however, used to full capacity by rescheduling operations. Patients whose operations were postponed will be given priority for new dates.
Donor attendances at blood collection sessions in the pre-Christmas period is traditionally low. Promotional effort is therefore increased at that time to maintain 711W adequate blood supplies. In particular in December 1989, the national directorate of the blood transfusion service co-ordinated the mailing of a quarter of a million special reminder cards in a £65,000 campaign intended to encourage blood donors to keep their appointments. In the event, the unforeseeable complicaton of the flu epidemic severely reduced the number of donors available, and additional national and local media were used to boost donor attendance.
Nationally, through the good response of blood donors, the campaign was successful in maintaining blood supplies in most areas through a period of particular difficulty, and blood stocks have returned to normal levels.