Blood bike volunteers replaced by private firm in £14m deal

The charity said it was ‘devastated’ that a private company would paid for the work it previously did for free.

Matt Bodell
4 April 2019
Blood Bike UK NHS

The charity has saved the NHS around £700,000 over the past seven years.

A charity that provided a free out-of-hours blood supply service to the NHS in Coventry and Warwickshire, has been replaced with a new £14 million contract with a private firm.


Warwickshire and Solihull Bloodbikes (WSBB) provided an out-of-hours, year-round emergency motorcycle courier service delivering blood products from Nuneaton, Rugby and Warwick to University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) for free since 2012.

But that contract has now been given to QE Facilities Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary company of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust.

The new contract will run until 2020.


Chairman of WSBB Mark Lavery said: “Through our own enquiries we have found out that UHCW has chosen to pay a company for work we have previously done free-of-charge.


“We are devastated that the NHS could make such an award without consulting us.

“We have completed over 7,000 calls in all-weather conditions since we were founded in 2012 and it is estimated we have saved UHCW nearly £700,000 in that time.

“All our unpaid volunteers are shocked at the decision. We have committed significant time and effort to grow the group where public donations have enabled us to invest in five vehicles to maintain service in all weathers 365 days a year. All that is now in jeopardy.

“We believe an investigation is warranted to determine how and why an experienced and reputable charity can be sacrificed in a cash-strapped NHS.


“It is totally beyond comprehension how taxpayers’ funds can be used to increase the profits of a company when there is a proven free-of-charge service already in place.”

‘Profits will be reinvested into healthcare’.

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said any profits made from the contract will be reinvested into healthcare.

The spokesperson said the trust uses a wide range of suppliers and WSBB only transported around 1,000 items a year.

“With complexities increasing and the service potentially expanding to cover areas such as Hereford and Worcester, a decision was made to standardise delivery to ensure current and future needs, as well as stringent UK accreditation requirements, are met and exceeded.

“In line with public sector procurement regulations, we went out to open tender and supplier days were held to inform organisations of our requirements,” the spokesperson added.


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