A BLOOD delivery service provided by volunteer bikers is being extended to a North-East hospital.

Darlington Memorial Hospital is teaming up with Northumbria Blood Bikes, a group of volunteer motorcyclists who deliver life-saving blood products.

The new ‘blood bikers’ service now means that there is a dedicated group permanently on call.

The hospital currently receives two deliveries every day from the NHS Blood Transfusion Centre (NHSBTC) in Newcastle. However, out of hours, the hospital was using taxi services to replenish stocks that were running low.

But now, the motorcyclists operate a rota system and are available to deliver blood between 7pm and 7am.

Russell Irwin, transfusion manager at Darlington Memorial Hospital, said: “Blood products are essential to our work and the blood bikers offer a dedicated means of courier transport to replenish supplies quickly and efficiently when they are running low.

“When a department is busy and demand is high, or when we need blood with special requirements or blood products such as platelets, we need to restock.

“The partnership with Northumbrian Blood Bikes means we can provide better services for patients. We can replenish the Darlington blood bank through the night and at weekends and get blood that has special requirements on a defined system.”

The blood bikers set up their voluntary group a year ago and now have about 80 members.

All of the blood bikers are uniformed and have had special training.

Owain Harris from Northumbria Blood Bikes said: “We donate our time and skills for free because we want to help save lives and improve patient care. We offer a dedicated service that we hope we can extend to other areas of the North-East.”

Hospitals in Gateshead, South Shields and Ashington are already using the service.