Volunteers' Week - Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes

This week it’s National Volunteers’ Week in the UK, an annual event which takes place on 1-7 June.  It celebrates the contribution made by millions of volunteers across the UK.  We want to share the stories of some of the volunteers we are proud to work with.

By Jeff Parris, Programme Director at O2  

What do you imagine if somebody says ‘mature’ or ‘born again bikers’?  I bet it’s a million miles from that of the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes (NABB).  So what do you know about Blood Bikes? Probably not a lot – but we should.

Blood Bikes have been a feature in the UK since 1969. We know the NHS doesn’t have unlimited resources.  One area that is very costly to the NHS is courier services.  Most hospitals operate an internal courier service to ferry diagnostic specimens, blood, notes, x-rays, scans and other medical equipment between themselves and other hospitals in the area. These services generally operate during office hours, which means that in the evening and at weekends the hospitals need to make alternative provision for items that need to be transported there and then.  In many cases this alternative provision is to use a taxi.  With taxi rates around £2 per mile and even more at night, it doesn’t take much for a hospital to run up huge bills.

The Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes are a dedicated group of volunteers who offer their time (at nil cost) to transport vital materials and fluids and yes you guessed it – by bike.  Each bike has to be specially adapted and modified and costs of the order of £13,000 not to mention a further £3,000 per year to keep on the road – all paid for from voluntary donations.  All the volunteer riders are qualified to an advanced riding level.  Last year there were many thousands of individual journeys made by the NABB.  More often than not they were transporting vital equipment or supplies that were needed by a hospital to help with a life-threatening situation.  They operate out of hours, 365 days of the year including Bank Holidays and weekends servicing 272 hospitals.

Recently, a Blood Bike Volunteer transported a vital piece of surgical equipment from a Bedfordshire hospital to a  Buckinghamshire hospital so it could be used for an emergency tracheotomy on a child with severe breathing difficulties.  Cost to NHS = Zero.  Value of Outcome = Priceless.

O2 is proud to sponsor this wonderful organisation because they make a BIG difference and in National Volunteer Week they certainly deserve some profile – and if you really want an illustration of the difference they make and how O2 supports them watch a short film about the amazing work of the Blood Bikers here:

Hear more on the NABB from John Stepney, Chairman -The Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes

Have you got what it takes to volunteer?  Contact the NABB for more information