If you’ve read my previous blog (http://www.mdctrailblazers.org/blogs/699_doing-my-civic-duty) then you’ll be familiar with the challenges I faced when trying to give blood just before Christmas. To recap, I was informed at the time that I was forbidden from giving blood for health and safety reasons: I was unable to transfer from the bleed bed to my chair independently and thus could not evacuate in the event of a fire.
In true Trailblazers spirit, however, this was not going to be the end of the issue. I left my details with the staff nurse at the blood drive, and my blog was passed on to the PR department at the BTS. While Christmas shopping the following day, I received a call from the District Nurse who was very apologetic about the discrimination I’d experienced at the hands of the nurses, but reiterated to me that it was their policy not to allow wheelchair users such as myself to donate. I explained to her my situation, and how nonsensical their policy was, and she agreed to take the issue to the bi-monthly panel in which it would be discussed by senior governors of the organisation. Later that week I also received a call from the marketing officer who gave me the same information, promising that the members of staff involved would be retrained to handle cases like mine more delicately. My response was that it wasn’t the treatment I had received which had riled me, but the policy itself. Again, the same answer: wheelchair users cannot donate blood.
Something definitely wasn’t right. I decided, therefore, to keep working my way up the ranks of the BTS until I found someone who was actually talking sense. After a couple of weeks I managed to get in touch with the senior medical officer, who was surprised to hear of the treatment I had received. As far as she was aware, it had for some time been their policy that provided the wheelchair user was capable of moving from chair to bed and back again with the use of mobility aids or their own carer, and that both were aware of the risks associated with both transfers and the giving of blood itself, there was no reason they should not be allowed to do so. As a result of that conversation I received the above letter, which validates my ability to give blood in the future.
This is great, for me. But what is clear is that there is a disgraceful lack of communication within the organisation. To have to speak to at least five different people in different parts of the BTS before I found anyone who was genuinely clued up on their policy is not acceptable, and it’s clear to me that what they need is a kick up the backside in order to get the correct policy to filter down the ranks to the people on the ground, who at the end of the day are the ones who make the decision as to who can or can’t donate blood. I have a letter I can wave in indignation. The other thousands of wheelchair users do not.
It’s funny how many problems we face boil down to a simple lack of communication and understanding, isn’t it?