What are we doing to keep our donors and staff safe?


In addition to the stringent requirements of the Blood Safety and Quality Regulations (2005) that always apply to blood donation, the WHO has provided guidance to blood services on how we should maintain a safe and adequate blood supply during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Specifically, they advise that the guidance that public health bodies provide for health care settings does not apply to blood donation sessions that occur away from a hospital setting. All of our donation settings, including those at headquarters in Belfast, occur away from a hospital. More on the WHO advice can be found at https://www.who.int/publications-detail/maintaining-a-safe-and-adequate-blood-supply-during-the-pandemic-outbreak-of-coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)

The WHO advises that the public health advice for the general population applies to blood and platelet donation sessions. Currently, in the UK, the public health advice is that members of the public are not required to wear any form of personal protective equipment (PPE) as they go about their daily lives.

Additional Safety Measures: what you can do to keep everyone safe

We have completed detailed risk assessments of the donation process particularly at those points in the donation journey where it is impossible to maintain social distancing of two metres. We have put in place additional measures to ensure that donors and staff remain safe during donation. Some measures we will ask you as donors to follow.

Dos and Don’ts


  • make an appointment to donate
  • check that you meet the basic criteria to donate; see https://nibts.hscni.net/donating-blood/can-i-donate/
  • please wear a face covering unless use have a medical reason for not doing so
  • ensure good hand hygiene by washing or sanitising your hands when you arrive at the donation session
  • maintain cough and sneeze etiquette by using a clean tissue to catch your cough or sneeze, disposing of the tissue and washing or sanitising your hands immediately. If you don’t have a tissue (these will be provided on session) please cough or sneeze into the crook of your free arm
  • attend for donation alone


  • attend unless you have an appointment
  • attend if you or someone in your household has been unwell for any reason (including tummy bugs or common cold) in the past 14 days
  • attend if you have active hayfever or allergy symptoms including a runny nose and watering eyes
  • bring children under 17 years of age with you when you donate


We have introduced a number of additional measures to keep our donors and staff safe. We ask that you respect these.

  1. A member of staff will meet you at the entrance to the session and ask you about your general health in the past 14 days
  2. Your temperature will be checked on arrival
  3. Please respect the member of staff if you are advised that you are unable to donate today. We will be delighted to see you again very soon
  4. If you proceed to the donation session, you will be asked to clean your hands
  5. At this time, only donors will be able to access the donation area. We kindly ask that any friends or family who accompany you wait outside the donation venue for you
  6. Please do not share your pen with other donors or staff. You are welcome to use your own pen if you wish
  7. Once inside the donation session, waiting area chairs will be arranged so you can sit slightly separated from other donors. Please do not move the chairs closer together!
  8. At the refreshment table, please use the disposable cups provided. We ask that you do not bring your own cup or bottle at this time


We have changed the open access walk-in sessions to donation appointments. This allows us to limit the number of donors at the session at any one time which will enable reasonable social distancing in waiting areas. After you receive your normal invitation, you will be sent a text message detailing how you can contact us to make an appointment to donate.


Unfortunately, we have had to alter the location of some of our planned donation sessions at short notice as venues such as schools and colleges become unavailable. We may, therefore, ask you to attend an alternative location.


In order to keep our staff and donors safe, face coverings at donation sessions are currently mandatory. The only time you will be asked to remove your mask is during initial assessment and at the tea table. You may also be asked to remove your mask by a member of staff during donation.

If you are unable to wear a mask for any reason, we kindly request that, at this time, you do not attend a donation session.


We understand that you may have to look after children who are not able to attend school. However, children under the age of 17 will not be able to enter the donation session and we kindly request that you make alternative arrangements for childcare whilst you donate.

Thank you for your continued support of the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service.

General statement :

In light of current infection rates, we have reviewed the infection control measures currently in operation at donation sessions. Effective immediately, all donors and staff at NIBTS donation session are required to wear a mask. If, for any reason, you are unable to wear a mask whilst you donate, we kindly request that you don’t attend to donate at this time.

 We are also aware that staff on session have experienced aggressive and abusive behaviour when they have requested that donors wear masks when they donate. We would like to remind all donors that NIBTS has a zero tolerance approach to the abuse of staff. Should staff experience behaviour that they feel is aggressive or abusive, they will ask the individual to leave the session immediately.

Job Opportunity

For a career that makes a difference


Department: Haematology/Blood Transfusion, Microbiology, Cellular Pathology,
Cytopathology, Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service, Clinical Chemistry,
Regional Specialities

Location: NI Pathology Laboratories

Applications are now invited from enthusiastic and motivated individuals who will work as part of a skilled dedicated team as well as autonomously to deliver, a high quality, efficient, safe and effective laboratory service.

Roles will be dependent upon the discipline concerned but will mainly consist of the analysis of biological specimens using scientific and analytical methods utilising various manual, semi-automated and automated techniques and equipment.

Essential Criteria:

You will:
• Be registered as a Biomedical Scientist with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) AND
• Have completed IBMS Specialist Portfolio (or equivalent) relevant to discipline plus at least one year’s post registration experience within relevant discipline

• Hold current HCPC registration as a Biomedical Scientist obtained prior to 2007 and have at least 3 years post HCPC registration experience in the relevant discipline.
Following this interview process, a waiting list will be compiled to fill future vacancies. Depending on the needs of the service, consideration will be given to candidates interested in permanent, temporary, full time and part time employment.

What we offer:

• Exciting opportunities across all disciplines and locations;
• Support in your Continuing Professional Development;
• Opportunities to participate in various service improvement initiatives;
• The chance for you to participate in laboratory events to showcase our profession;
• Opportunities for career progression.


Apply online: www.hscrecruit.com

Closing date for applications: Friday 16th November 2018

Interviews will take place on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th November 2018.

An Equal Opportunities Employer

Click on the image below for Information on Living and Working in Northern Ireland

July in Numbers

Donors attended sessions

Units of Blood collected

Units of Platelets collected



Christina’s story

Before I had my first son Eoin in October 2000 I would have always given blood. Everything went well with the pregnancy and he was born a week early. When I went back to donate in 2002 I got a letter to say my blood couldn’t be used as I now had Rhesus antibodies; I was devastated, I loved giving blood. It wasn’t till I was pregnant with my second son in 2004 that the doctors were keeping a good eye on my liver functions but the pregnancy went well until 33 weeks when I hadn’t had as much movement from the baby. I went to my doctors on the Tuesday morning and was rushed to Craigavon where I was told the baby was in danger and I had an emergency c-section. Our beautiful boy Rian was born but he was so so sick, his bloods were so low and his organs were damaged due to being so anaemic; he died 2 hours later.

When we met with doctors a few months later they said any further pregnancy would be very dangerous but of course I went on ahead and got pregnant in 2005. All of my care was in the Royal under a specialist team who kept a very close eye on me. At 20 weeks I was rushed to Glasgow for an intrauterine transfusion as the baby was becoming anaemic; the baby got blood through the cord. They don’t do the procedure over here.

I had to go over every 2 weeks for the procedure and at 34 weeks I got the 8th one. The next week my son Joe was born by c-section; he was rushed to neo-natal where he spent 8 days. He was well monitored on discharge and he received 2 top up transfusions at 6 and 9 weeks. He is now 12 and has never looked back. A lot of my family and friends started to give blood from this.

In 2008 I got pregnant again and again my care was through the Royal. This time things were going a bit smoother, I didn’t need to go to Glasgow until 24 weeks when the baby needed a transfusion. I got 5 in total this time and at 33 weeks my son Jack was born. Again he was rushed to the neo-natal unit. He spent 14 days in Belfast and 3 in Craigavon before he could home again. He was the same as Joe and needed 2 top up transfusions at 6 and 10 weeks, he is now a healthy 9 year old.

I really thought that was me, I had now had 3 c-sections and 3 healthy boys at home but I always longed for a girl and in 2015 I became pregnant again. This time all my care was in the Royal but the baby was anaemic a lot earlier. I had to go for my 1st intrauterine transfusion at 19 weeks and the baby was so badly anaemic I had to go back the next week as well. I had 5 in total and at 26 weeks my waters broke. So I had to stay in the Royal on full bed rest for as long as I could but the baby started to become slowly anaemic. I was due to go to Glasgow again at 28 weeks but I couldn’t fly and I was rushed for an emergency c-section. My little girl Jessie was born weighing 2lb 14oz, I didn’t even get to see her, she was rushed away to ICU and got a lot of medical attention and transfusions. It was the next day before I got to see her, she was so so tiny, she had to go for an operation at 3 days old and had a gastrostomy tube fitted as her oesophagus was formed. She was very sick and in total had another 5 transfusions. At 8 weeks she got her tube removed and was allowed a bottle, a happy day all around. She spent 5 weeks in the Royal and a further 5.5 in Craigavon neo-natal before she got to come home and meet her brothers and family.

We can never thank the people enough who donate at all the sessions because really without them my 3 kids would not be here today, forever grateful. Many of our family and friends donate because they know the true meaning of it to us.