Blood service job losses 'one more attack on rural areas'
A blood donation collection team have been made redundant after a decision was made to halve the number of collection locations.
The 12 staff members of the North Devon blood collection team began their notice period this week, with many facing an uncertain future.
A team member, who did not want to be named, said the redundancies had come as a "huge shock" to all those affected.
"The whole system is flawed. We were one of the few teams to hit all our targets, but we were told the hospitals don't need as much blood."
The source added: "It sends out mixed messages to donors who will face horrendous queues." They added: "One of my friends who lives in Bideford received a letter from the blood service asking them if they wanted to make a 100-mile round trip to Exeter in order to donate."
It follows a decision to reduce the number of places people can give blood from 13 to six.
The blood service said the decisions were made to save money, support front line patient care and maintain the demand for blood.
But Unison condemned the cutbacks as "ridiculous" and "unnecessary".
From this autumn, regular donation sessions will be held in Bude, Barnstaple, Bideford, Holsworthy, South Molton and Chulmleigh.
An NHS Blood and Transplant spokesman said: "During this period of transition, some donors might not be able to donate as frequently as they have in the past.
"Every donor in North Devon who wants to give blood will still be able to do so, but unfortunately some may face a longer journey to donate."
Staff were initially informed of the decision to make them redundant at a presentation in May.
Michael Auguste, Unison area organiser, said: "Unison members who work in the North Devon Blood Collection Team were dismayed when this bombshell was dropped on them."
The union said it also regretted the withdrawal of services in North Devon. "These areas have some of the most loyal donors and when they're short of donors nationally, we see this as a ridiculous move," union spokesman Stuart Roden said.
"People who rely on public transport in these rural area are not going to be able to jump on a bus to go 20 or so miles to give blood... so I see this as another attack on rural communities."
Some members of staff in the North Devon team will be redeployed to roles elsewhere within NHS Blood and Transplant, or have accepted voluntary redundancy packages.
The spokesman added: "We have not taken any of these decisions lightly and we appreciate the commitment and loyalty shown by our staff members over the years."