People in West Norfolk are being urged to become blood donors in a new campaign which aims to reverse a sharp drop in the practice.
The plea follows the release of new figures which suggest that fewer than four per cent of the county’s population that could give blood regularly do.
The statistics, which have been released to coincide with this week’s National Blood Week, also show that the number of new donors coming forward across England and north Wales is 40 per cent lower than 10 years ago.
And, with a donation session scheduled to take place in Lynn on Monday, NHS Blood and Transplant officials have warned that action is needed now in order to preserve the service in the future.
Jon Latham, the service’s assistant director of donor services and marketing, said: “We simply can’t ignore the fact that there has been a stark reduction in the number of new donors coming forward.
“While we can meet the needs of patients now, it’s important we strengthen the donor base for the future.
“If we don’t attract new people to donate, it will put more pressure on the ability to provide the right type of blood the NHS needs for patients in the future.”
Across Norfolk, around 19,000 people gave blood at least once during 2014.
And the service says that 2,713 people in the county donated for the first time last year.
But that equates to just five out of every 1,000 people aged between 17 and 70 – the ages within which people are eligible to donate – estimated to be living in the county.
They also say that only 33 of every 1,000 people are active donors.
This Sunday is World Blood Donor Day and officials are hoping the latest campaign will trigger an increase in demand for donation sessions which are planned across West Norfolk over the coming weeks.
The first will be held at the Kings Centre in Wellesley Street, Lynn, this Monday, June 15, between 10.30am and 12.15pm and from 2 until 4pm.
Donors can also give blood at the Swaffham Assembly Rooms on Wednesday, June 17, between 1 and 3.30pm or from 5 until 7pm.
Further events are also planned at Hunstanton town hall on June 25, Downham town hall on June 29, the Fakenham Sports Centre on July 10 and the Gaywood church rooms on July 14.
And Mr Latham has urged people across the area to sign up for their nearest sessions.
He said: “Giving blood is simple and easy to do and will only take about an hour of your time.
“It could literally be a matter of life and death for somebody else.”
To find out if you are eligible, book an appointment, or find out more about future donation events, phone 0300 1232323 or visit www.blood.co.uk.