Ireland to import blood from UK to address shortage

Irish Blood Transfusion Service is encouraging people to donate blood

The health system is currently experiencing a shortage of blood supply and a consignment is to be imported from the UK to address the matter, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has said.

It said 350 units of RhD negative blood groups, O negative, A negative and B negative are being collected from England. This is the third time the IBTS has imported blood from NHSBT in the last year.

“The IBTS is again activating our contingency arrangement with NHSBT in England to supplement blood stocks and avoid raising an alert under the Irish national blood shortage plan, which could have a serious impact on patient care,” said IBTS operations director Paul McKinney.

In addition to importing blood from NHSBT, the IBTS is asking for public support to maintain the blood supply.


“The appointment based system introduced at the beginning of the pandemic has helped us to manage donor attendance and keep donors and staff safe on clinic,” said Mr McKinney.

“However, maintaining RhD negative blood groups has remained exceptionally difficult and with just 2 days of O negative blood in stock, the IBTS is closer than it has ever been to declaring an amber alert which would have a direct impact on hospital activity, particularly for planned surgeries.

“In recent weeks, approximately 20 per cent of our booked appointments have not shown up to donate.

“While we are hugely grateful to all our donors who have continued to support us throughout the pandemic, this has a very real and consequential effect on our ability to collect blood and maintain the supply.

“Over the last number of weeks we have continued to issue more RhD negative blood to hospitals than we have been able to collect, so the IBTS has made the decision to request a consignment of blood from the UK to ensure continuity of supply over the next week.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter