We are a UK Registered Charity run entirely by unpaid volunteers.
We provide an out-of-hours, emergency transport service to the NHS, delivering blood and other urgent medical items between hospitals in and around Nottinghamshire.
In critical situations, these items may need to be delivered urgently in order to help save a patient’s life.
Our vehicles, with their ‘hi-viz’ livery, can quickly but safely get through heavy traffic to reach their destination sooner.
We will also provide free transportation services for donor breast milk, collecting from Milk Banks and delivering back to our local hospitals – a vital service for the treatment of premature babies and one which can significantly reduce mortality rates and illness.
We receive no government funding and make no charge to the NHS for our services, so rely solely on donations and corporate sponsorship to keep us rolling and, in return, saving the NHS tens of thousands of pounds in transport costs so that more money can be directed to front-line services and patient care.
Nottinghamshire Blood Bikes is part of NABB - the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes – who act as a guiding force for groups across the country.
Outside office hours, when their internal courier service is not available, hospitals rely on local taxi companies or couriers to transfer urgently required blood or other medical supplies.
This costs the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Imagine a relative who needs urgent blood – would you be happy to wait until a taxi had dropped off their latest fare before being able to collect?
We offer a reliable, prompt and professional service completely free of charge.
Motorbikes have advantages when it comes to transporting time-sensitive items such as blood. It’s far easier for us to cut through traffic, for example, so journey times are far more predictable and generally far quicker than cars or vans.
A well-ridden motorcycle is also likely to be nearly as quick as any emergency vehicle in typical town traffic too – you will no doubt have seen the way that other road users are slow to react to ‘blues and twos’ and some simply don’t understand the concept of making room for these vehicles to pass. Our motorcycles, in full emergency livery, are able to make consistent progress and filter through even the worst of gridlocks.
More recently we have acquired two cars to assist us in carrying larger items and items in bulk. The four wheeled vehicles are also used to keep the service running during poor weather conditions.
Our volunteers don’t ride their own bikes, they ride bikes owned and maintained by our charity.
We currently operate a fleet consisting of four bikes; two BMW F800GTs, one BMW R1150 and an older 650cc Honda Deauville, the latter now used solely for display purposes.
These are ‘tourer-style’ motorcycles designed to be ridden for extended periods and distances, that offer some protection from the worst of the weather and which have reasonable luggage capacity.
Our bikes have full, high visibility markings in order to ensure they can be easily identified as ‘Blood Bikes’ and to help our riders and their precious cargo be seen and stay safe.
As our funding increases, the fleet will expand. There is no particular brand or model that Blood Bike groups use, so we’ll keep an eye out for the right bike - at the right price!
If any rider is ‘on call’ for several consecutive nights, they may choose to take possession of the NBB bike for the duration of that time and to keep the bike at their home location, so that they can respond immediately to a request for assistance. They would need to have a garage or other secure place to store the bike in these circumstances.
For riders without a garage, or when perhaps only covering one ‘shift’ at a time, we hope to base two bikes at Fire or Ambulance Stations, which means a safe, secure location with all the facilities you might imagine.
Riders can ‘swap’ over from their own bike or car, complete the call out and then swap back.
As our service levels increase – and the numbers of bikes too – we will continually monitor the best possible approach to bike storage and use, so that we cater for the needs of our members.
We now have two cars owned by the group. A Skoda Octavia Estate and a Toyota RAV4 (4 wheel drive). These are used to carry bulky items that wont fit on the bike racks. These vehicles are also used as the primary transport vehicles during poor weather conditions.
Our riders will – at ALL times - use their own discretion as to when the use of a motorcycle is unsafe. This could be when it’s particularly icy or during severe gales etc and, in these circumstances only, they can decide to make use of their own 4-wheel based transport by agreement from the Chairman. They would be reimbursed the fuel cost that would have been spent on a motorcycle journey only.
Blood and blood products such as platelets are packed inside special insulated boxes and these are then secured to a special rack on the bike. The boxes are designed to maintain the temperature of the load during transportation. Our bikes also have panniers where samples can be transported along with non-temperature sensitive items such as instruments or documentation. The cars are used when the amount to be transferred is too large for the back of a bike.
If the external temperature is too cold (typically below 3 degrees Celsius), it is unlikely that we could transport live blood stocks on a motorcycle.
Frozen, human breast milk is used in the treatment of premature babies where, for any number of reasons, the mother is unable to express their own milk.
Studies have shown that babies who receive donated breast milk at their most vulnerable time are far more likely to make progress in terms of physical health and growth.
There is a significantly reduced mortality rate amongst premature babies who receive this milk and the long term health benefits are substantial too.
Mothers across the country donate their spare milk and it is collected (sometimes by Blood Bike groups) and transported to one of a few Milk Bank units who will then test, treat and freeze the milk in small bottles ready for call-off by a hospital.
This is where we come in – reducing the cost of transport and saving the NHS money!
We currently cover hospitals and NHS service providers throughout Nottinghamshire - although this doesn't mean we're limited by the border...
Our first service agreement was with the Sherwood Forest Trust Hospitals (King’s Mill in Mansfield and the Newark Hospital) but we may have to collect from units in Sheffield, Hull and even Chester.
Our second agreement saw us team up with the Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust, covering Hospitals such as Highbury, Millbrook, Bassetlaw, Hopewood and Mapperley.
We then began to work with the East Midland's Pathology (EMPATH) department within the Nottingham University Hospitals Trust - involving blood stock and sampling services between City and QMC Hospital, as well as collections from - or deliveries to - NHSBT units in Sheffield, Leeds and even Bristol.
More recently we have teamed up with a group of GP surgeries in the Rushcliffe area to provide a transport service, for blood tests, at the end of extended hours surgerys.
We hope to expand our service further - we're ready and willing to do more work for the NHS - completely free of charge.
There may be times when an item is being transported from one end of the country to another and, in these circumstances, we might be involved in completing a ‘leg’ which could mean meeting a rider further North and then passing on to another group further South.
We will do whatever it takes to save the NHS money.