One in ten blood donations is wasted in Scotland


MORE than 10% of blood donated in Scotland is wasted, it has been revealed.

Figures show that 10.38% of blood donated by volunteers across Scotland is destroyed for reasons including burst packaging, fridge failure and passing expiry date.

Every month an average of 1,573 of the pint-sized donations made to the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) are sent to the incinerator without being used.

The figures, revealed through the Freedom of Information Act, asked the SNBTS to provide total donation numbers as well as the amount of discarded blood and the reason it is not used.

The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service regularly appeal for donors
The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service regularly appeal for donors


The numbers revealed that 4.02% of blood donated in Scotland was destroyed after passing its expiry date of 35 days.

2.6% of donations made were also wasted because donors failed to produce the amount of blood required for a full unit – between 482ml and 528ml.

And 2.4% of blood packs – an average of 360 a month – were destroyed due to “clotted donations, contaminated packs, burst packs and problems with the manufacturing and testing of blood components.”

1.16% were also destroyed in hospitals after fridge failure, over-ordering, package damage and being left out of temperature controlled storage.

The lowest wastage came from disease screening – which accounted for just 0.2% of blood destroyed.

The NHS provided figures for June 2014 to June 2015, showing that of the 197,068 donations made over the 13 month period 22,786 were unused.

At present only 5% of the Scottish population are blood donors despite regular appeals from the SNBTS.

The service is currently reporting shortages of B- and AB- types, with a spokeswoman indicating that donation levels drop by up to 20% over the summer months.

And in June health bosses from the NHS Blood and Transplant reported that the number of new donors had dropped by 40% in the last decade.

Air ambulance services carry blood packs with them
Air ambulance services carry blood packs with them


Craig Sinclair, 26, a donor from Edinburgh said: “I find it hard to believe that after the huge drives for donors to come forward at the beginning of the year, some donations received aren’t being used.”

“It wastes everyone’s time reaching out for donors, using staff’s time taking donations and wasting donors’ efforts overall.”

Despite the waste, in a recent appeal for donors, the SNBTS said: “We urgently need to attract more new and returning blood donors. Every day we need to welcome 1,000 blood donors in Scotland.”

Moira Carter, Associate Director of Donor Services for the SNBTS, said: “We are so grateful for the commitment and dedication of Scotland’s donors.

“The one thing I think it’s important to recognise is that the patients who receive blood do really appreciate it.”

Mrs Carter said some of the “wasted” blood was taken out of storage in anticipation of being used but was not required. This could happen up to six times before it was eventually discarded.

She added: “We also have blood on the air ambulances.

“For these sorts of emergencies they can end up being out and not used, and we have to replenish them.”

Ronnie Robertson, 68, a lifelong donor from Edinburgh, said: “Scotland’s blood transfusion is a very self sufficient service – I would expect there to be some wastage and I don’t feel that 10% is particularly high.

“Having said that, if blood is being disposed of through lack of use why can’t they send excessive blood supplies down to England as they do patients to prevent the blood being dumped through lack of use.

“The wastage could also be prevented by enforcing more vigilant housekeeping.”