COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Please note the guidance and advice detailed below

For the latest information and advice regarding COVID-19 please see:

Public Health Agency (NI)

Covid 19 Advice Catch it, Bin it, Kill it

COVID-19 update

Here at NIBTS, we understand that we are all currently experiencing extremely challenging and unprecedented times.

The safety and health of the patients we serve as well as our dedicated donors and staff is our priority.

When the main focus of attention is COVID-19, we need to be mindful that every hour of every day the health services across the world continue to care for other vulnerable patients experiencing a vast range of conditions which may be life threatening or have a significant impact on their day to day lives.

Whilst some planned activities such as surgery and outpatient appointments will be paused, the care and treatment of many patients must continue. Many of these patients require treatment for cancer or other urgent life threatening and limiting conditions. Some will become so unwell that they need blood, platelets or other blood products to manage their condition. For this reason, it is essential that we must maintain sufficient stocks of blood and blood products and ask our committed and loyal donors to continue to make the effort to provide their generous gift of blood and platelets over the coming weeks and months.

To ensure that our donors and staff are kept as safe as possible, you will have already seen some changes to how we manage our donation sessions. As the situation remains fluid, it is likely that the advice, guidance and actions we take will change frequently. To keep up to date with these changes, we ask that you check our website at nibts.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest information.

DONATION CRITERIA

In addition to the usual criteria for donation (see Can I Donate?):

Person with confirmed Coronavirus

  • You must not donate until at least 28 days have passed since the end of symptoms

Person with symptoms of Coronavirus but not confirmed by a test

  • You must not donate until at least 28 days have passed since the end of symptoms

Person with symptoms of Coronavirus but tested negative

  • You must not donate until at least 14 days have passed since the end of symptoms

Person testing positive for Coronavirus but with no symptoms

  • You must not donate until at least 28 days have passed since the date of the last positive test

Person who has been in isolation (this excludes donors with symptoms of Coronavirus)

  • You can donate 14 days after the first day of isolation provided you remain well

Contact with a confirmed case of Coronavirus

  • If you have not been required to isolate and remain well with no symptoms of Coronavirus infection and you agree to report any post donation illness, you can donate

Symptoms of Coronavirus infection include

  • Fever
  • New persistent cough
  • Loss, or change in sense of smell and/or taste

Frequently Asked Questions

All sessions are currently going ahead and if you are well and able, please donate as normal. Check our website https://nibts.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus/for up-to-date guidance and donation criteria but please stay away if you have had a cough or temperature in the last 28 days. Donating blood is essential travel and we are following all current guidance and have many extra measures in place to keep our donors and staff safe.

Yes, you now need to phone our main reception on 08085534653 between 10am and 4.30pm to book an appointment for all upcoming donation sessions. Appointments will only be released two weeks ahead of the donation date to ensure that sessions are confirmed and unlikely to change.

We are taking extra measures to ensure all blood donors are safe at our donation sessions. We ask you also to adhere to government advice and if you are travelling to donate please do not use public transport. Also, if you do become unwell after donation please call us on 08085 534 669 as soon as possible to let us know.

Public Health England does not currently recommend the use of surgical masks in environments such as blood donation. We recognise the use of surgical masks could reassure some donors and are keeping all safety measures under constant review and may make further changes in the future. We would need to balance any changes against the need to ensure stocks of surgical masks are prioritised for front line use in clinical settings, where this is a proven benefit to their use. By triaging all donors on arrival, we are reducing the risk of symptomatic individuals entering the session environment.

We’ve asked all our blood donation teams to spread out our waiting room chairs and donation chairs as much as each venue will allow. This will vary between each location. At some venues the space is limited and we ask our donors to bear with us while we explore our options. We are trying to respond to the quickly changing situation while also continuing to collect all the blood hospitals need. We are keeping all safety measures under constant review and may make further changes in the future.

We’re asking our colleagues to practice social distance where possible on session. Blood donation naturally involves some close contact and space will vary between our venues. We want to protect our colleagues’ health so they can continue to collect lifesaving blood donations.

If there is a queue or not much room to wait to be triaged, our teams can ask donors to wait nearby and call them when we are ready for their appointment. We are keeping all safety measures under constant review and may make further changes in the future.

We have thorough cleaning procedures and have increased cleaning on session. We’ll pass on your feedback about that session in case something was not being done correctly. We are keeping all safety measures under constant review and may make further changes in the future.

The government advises everyone over the age of 70 should protect themselves by self-isolating, so we are temporarily preventing all donors over this age from donating. We understand this may be disappointing but hope you understand the decision has been taken for your protection.

If you are fit and well, even with an underlying medical condition (not excluding you from donation), we ask you to continue to donate. Eligibility criteria and deferral periods related to coronavirus can be found on our website NIBTS-Covid19

There have been no reported cases of any form of coronavirus being transmitted through the donation of blood. But as a precaution, UK Transfusion Services have added a 28 day deferral rule for anyone who has experienced symptoms of COVID-19 (donors with a confirmed negative test for COVID-19 can donate 14 days after resolution of symptoms).

If you have become unwell within 14 days of giving blood please call us on 08085 534 669 (Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm), as soon as you can, so we can respond to this.

AT THE DONATION SESSION

We have introduced the following additional measures to keep our donors and staff safe:

  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

WHAT NEXT?

Donation Slots

In the coming weeks, we will be changing the open access walk-in sessions to donation time slots. This will allow 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.

Venues

Unfortunately, we may need to alter the location of planned donation sessions at short notice as venues such as schools and colleges become unavailable. If this happens, we will ask you to attend an alternative location. If we are unable to provide mobile sessions, we will hold donation sessions at our fixed sites at College Street in Belfast and Headquarters on the Belfast City Hospital site in the first instance whilst we identify other suitable locations.

Children

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.