We rely on our generous blood donors in Scotland to provide blood components for Scottish hospitals. This allows hospitals to provide life-saving blood transfusions to patients who need them. We work in partnership with the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) to ensure the safety of donated blood. SNBTS is part of NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) and supplies high quality blood, tissues and cells across Scotland.
Blood safety and blood donor selection
While SNBTS is keen to encourage more people to donate blood if they are able to, many people are unable to donate blood for a wide range of reasons. We recognise that this can be frustrating for those who want to donate, but donor selection criteria are based on expert advice and are strictly managed. This is both to protect the health of donors and as part of the extensive steps taken to help ensure the safety of the blood that is provided to patients.
Ensuring the safety of donated blood is a priority. As well as having high regulatory standards in place (set out in the Blood Safety and Quality Regulations 2005, as amended), we follow advice from the independent UK Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) on the most appropriate measures to ensure the safety of blood, cells, tissues and organs for transfusion and transplantation.
Deferral and risk assessment
Since 2017, the deferral period for men who have sex with men (MSM) is now three months in Scotland, England and Wales, which has allowed more men in this group to donate blood if they wish to. SNBTS is also involved in a study with Public Health England and other blood services to explore whether it may be possible to enable more MSM to donate using a more individualised approach to assessment of donors to identify whether they can donate safely. More information on this research and the work of the FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) Steering Group.