UNISON today (Monday) became the first union to partner with the NHS to promote awareness of blood and organ donation.
The aim is to increase the numbers registering to become donors from UNISON’s 1.3 million members in an agreement with NHS Blood and Transplant.
UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said the three-year partnership represented an historic commitment by UNISON to save lives.
He also revealed that UNISON’s support for NHS Blood and Transplant holds personal significance for him. His life was saved twice with blood transfusions while undergoing surgery and treatment for cancer. Now fully recovered, Mr Prentis said it demonstrated the vital importance of donors.
“The reason I’m still alive is because of the generosity of other people – not just once but twice,” said Mr Prentis.
“It is vital that blood donations are always in line with patient need so patients have the reassurance I had that there is a ready supply when needed – and the country desperately needs more organ donors. We have more than a million members and they can make such a difference to others and literally be life-savers.”
NHS Blood and Transplant teams across England and North Wales collect more than 6,000 units of blood a day. However, there has been a sharp drop in the number of new donors over the last decade across the UK and globally. There are a number of reasons for this, including longer working hours, a fear of needles and people simply not getting around to it despite believing donating is a good thing to do.
A third of the UK population is signed up to the organ donor register but three people still die every day in need of a transplant.
As part of the agreement with NHS Blood and Transplant, UNISON will promote blood and organ donation to members at conferences, through its membership magazines and on its website and encourage activists as well as reps to become donor ambassadors.
Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transplant welcomed the partnership with UNISON: “This is an important day for us as we partner with UNISON to increase blood and organ donation among their membership. We hope that many of the union’s members will sign up as blood donors as well as commit to organ donation by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register and discussing their donation decision with their families.
“I hope that the partnership can help us appeal to a broader range of donors, particular those from Black African, Black Caribbean and Asian backgrounds who are under-represented as both blood and organ donors.”
Notes to editors
The partnership will be marked with an event held at UNISON centre in London on Monday 9 November 2015.
To sign up as a blood donor visit www.blood.co.uk
To sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register visit www.organdonation.nhs.ukwww.organdonation.nhs.uk
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. Its remit includes the provision of a reliable, efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England and North Wales. It is also the organ donor organisation for the UK and is responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.