Red Cross stands by decision to cut Grafton blood donation

DESPITE a recent campaign across the North Coast urging people to donate blood in the wake of mass appointment cancellations, the Red Cross Blood Service maintains the decision to cut Grafton's mobile blood unit in June was a necessary change.

The mobile whole blood collection unit at Grafton Base Hospital ceased on June 10, a move that disappointed many long-term donors.

At the time, State Donor Services manager Steven Eldridge said a drop in the need for whole blood, and rise in the demand for blood plasma, forced a rethink of blood collection practices in the area.

Australian Red Cross Blood Service representative Shaun Inguanzo said that still held true in the long term, but it would always be a challenge to get enough people to donate during the cold and flu season, which this year had hit hard and been prolonged.

Last week it was reported 600 donations were needed at the Coffs Harbour donor centre in coming weeks to meet the needs of patients across the state.

Mr Inguanzo said the drive to get people to donate was a preventative measure, and not a reflection of the loss of the Grafton unit.

"We still and always will need donors to fill appointments at local sites, but through marketing research we know there are enough donors in Coffs Harbour and that will grow even more over time," he said.

"The focus for us on the North Coast is to say if you've got an appointment please retain it if you can."

Since June, about 50 former Grafton donors have also made at least one donation in Coffs Harbour.

"As an organisation we have created this sense of need, so when we say we don't need something, people find it difficult to understand," Mr Inguanzo said.

"It's always going to be a challenge but we're confident in the decisions we've made and as frustrating as it is, all states are being affected by similar changes. We're a taxpayer funded service, so we need to spend the money where it's best going to be used. These changes will be able to help patient needs moving forward."



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