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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Blood Bikes scheme launched for Cumbria's hospitals

Motorcyclists are taking on a life-saving role with the launch of a new scheme to transport vital blood supplies across Cumbria.

Blood Bikes photo
John Sutton, blood transfusion team manager, Bill Bertham, Blood Bikes, Alan Bragg, Blood Bikes and Steve Hurd, haematology team manager

Retired airline manager Bill Bertham is the driving force behind the Blood Bikes Cumbria initiative, which involves volunteer bikers ferrying blood and other medical samples between hospitals in Carlisle and Whitehaven.

The new out-of-hours scheme has been made possible by a £3,600 donation from charitable funds at North Cumbria University Hospitals’ NHS Trust.

Mr Bertham, from Carlisle, set up Blood Bikes after his wife was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of blood cancer. She is now in remission.

He said: “My wife discovered a lump in her neck in 2011 which, after tests, was diagnosed as non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She still goes for regular check-ups at the Cumberland Infirmary and I wanted to show my appreciation of the valuable work they do.

“I have been a motorcycle enthusiast for many years and setting up Blood Bikes Cumbria and South West Scotland seemed perfect.”

Distances between West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and laboratories in Newcastle mean that the delivery of samples and supplies at short notice can sometimes only be done with the use of taxis.

The trust has said it will reinvest the money which would have been spent on couriers and taxis directly in patient care.

Mr Bertham’s appeal for riders to take part in the scheme sparked a response from 30 people who will now go through a rigorous training programme

He said: “We are always looking for experienced riders to offer their time and skills because what we’re finding is that as the hospitals understand what we can deliver, there is greater demand.”

Steve Hurd, haematology team manager at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “When I found out about what Bill was planning I offered my wholehearted support because I knew about how successful the Blood Bikes service has been in other parts of the country.”

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