VOLUNTEER blood bikers are once again delivering samples after being snubbed in contract negotiations.
Warwickshire and Solihull Bloodbikes (WSBB) has agreed to again start collecting and delivering samples for Coventry and Warwickshire pathology service.
Until April the volunteers had carried out the service free of charge for several years, but were ‘shocked’ to discover they had been excluded from the tendering process for the contract.
It was then awarded to QE Facilities – a subsidiary company of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, based in the north east.
Volunteers accepted they could not have taken on the whole contract, but argued they could have continued offering the same level of service it had been, and saved the NHS money in doing so.
They even launched a petition which was signed by some 30,000 people demanding to know why it was excluded from the tendering process.
WSBB – which was founded in 2012 – offers out-of-hours motorbike delivery of blood products and in that time has made 7,000 calls for pathology, which they say has saved the NHS some £700,000.
Charity chairman Mark Lavery said: “It is with great pleasure the Blood Bikes can once again do what we do best and help save University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust money with our free out of hours service totally run by volunteers and funded by kind donations from the public.”
And hospital bosses at UHCW – where the main pathology network is based – welcomed back the volunteers.
Chief operating officer Lisa Kelly said: “The transport of samples is vital to our work and the Blood Bikers offer a dedicated, professional service.
“These kind volunteers, who give up their time free of charge, make a real difference to the people of Coventry and Warwickshire and local communities.
“We are delighted to continue working in partnership with WSBB. Our aim is to ensure the pathology service continues to go from strength to strength and helps to further enhance the patient experience.”
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has welcomed the move. He previously wrote to UHCW chief executive Andy Hardy calling on the decision not to use the blood bikers to be revised.
Mr Western told the Observer: “I am thrilled the Bloodbikes are continuing their vital work in the region. It was an absolute travesty that this free, out of hours service run by volunteers was excluded from the tendering process.”