New North Devon Operation for South West Blood Bikes

North Devon Gazette

Lifesaving charity South West Blood Bikes has begun operating in North Devon.Â

South West Blood Bikes, the charity manned by volunteers who provide an out of hours urgent courier service for the NHS and Hospices, initially started its operations in Plymouth, but has since it was formed two years ago expanded its reach to cover also the South Hams, and Torbay.Â

The charity also provides relay cover across the county as part of the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes ‘Coast to Coast’ blood bike service, since they were appointed as the official member for Devon last year.Â

However, up until recently, the charity hasn’t had volunteers based in North Devon specifically. But as part of their ambitious growth plans, a new band of volunteers has been recruited to cover North Devon, and their operation went live in November with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust.Â

Headed up by Co-Ordinator Steve Holton, the North Devon section of the charity has all the volunteers required to provide an out of hours, emergency courier service to the NHS.Â

This totally free service is now available in the area, not only to the North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) but to the hospices, care homes, and doctors' surgeries locally.Â

They are also looking to commence fundraising in the area, with a view to raising enough funds to purchase a brand-new Blood Bike for the area. The plan at the moment is that the North Devon section will use one of the bikes from the Plymouth section, but ideally an additional motorcycle will be required and will be based in the Barnstaple area.Â

Steve Holton, co-ordinator for North Devon said he and his riders are overjoyed to have joined South West Blood Bikes, having been made to feel welcome as members of the charity, especially enjoying the open and honest atmosphere within the charity.Â

Mark Bentley, chairman of the charity, said that he was glad that volunteers were now in place to cover local work in North Devon.Â

He explained that as more areas come on board, each area co-ordinator would have a place on the management committee, so everyone throughout the charity had a say on how the whole organisation was run. He advised that further regional sections will be coming on board in other areas of the county soon, with an area co-ordinator overseeing recruitment and development of the charity's efforts within each area.Â

Mark said: “Our very first job carried out for NDHT was a call that came in on the 15th November at 21:30. This was a very urgent job requiring blood to be taken to the Bristol Filton Blood Bank. Due to the urgency of the job, we dispatched two fully liveried motorbikes to transport the package.Â

“A few days later saw another urgent job carried out for NDHT where donor breast milk was taken from the special care baby unit (SCBU) at NDDH to the Royal Devon and Exeter Wonford (RD&E).”Â