The superstars behind South West Blood Bikes
South West Blood Bikes is a remarkable Plymouth-based service run by volunteers who use their advanced motorcycle skills in providing an out of hours service to support NHS Trusts to transport essential urgent supplies such as blood, pathology samples, medication, medical equipment and notes and occasionally donor breast milk to the NHS hospitals and hospices throughout Devon and beyond.
They are a charity who utilise the motorbike skills they have for the benefit of the service that they provide, with a fleet of nine liveried blood bikes. It doesn’t stop there, as they also have two four-wheel-drive cars for inclement weather, as well as a support van which can be used as an on-call vehicle if needed, or for events.
South West Blood Bikes has supported University Hospitals Plymouth (UHP) with swabbing and protecting colleagues as well as supporting housebound patients with pre op swabbing to an impressive extent. Mark Bentley, the Chairman of the Charity, explained that his volunteers were able to support the Trust by taking tests to UHP colleagues at home, waiting while they perform the test on themselves and then taking these to the dedicated microbiology laboratory for immediate processing. This meant that colleagues could be quickly checked and if negative, return to the front line to assist in the response against the pandemic. This service was then extended to include housebound patients awaiting elective surgery at UHP who were unable to get to an NHS testing centre yet needed to test negative for COVID-19 in order to be able to have their surgical procedures, and the South West Blood Bike volunteers were happy to facilitate this too.
Mark adds “I am immensely proud of my Plymouth Team who have carried out this work for UHP. We have delivered hundreds, if not thousands, of tests during the pandemic. Our riders and drivers have been out in all weathers, with volunteers spending on average 3-4 hours of their time each evening to make this possible. We have covered addresses from as far apart as Launceston to Torbay – and all of this is on top of the additional work we do for the NHS and hospices throughout the Devon. We have no paid staff whatsoever; our service is run entirely by a dedicated team of 42 volunteers working from three teams around the county. Our volunteers have turned out every single day – weekends, bank holidays and even on Christmas Day to help with this amazing work. The dedication they give to this service is humbling.”
Sue Wilkins, Director of Mass Vaccination, Flu and Testing, explains, “The role of South West Blood Bikes in supporting our covid response has been exceptional. From supporting colleagues who have been unable to access on site staff testing through to housebound patients needing critical preoperative screening; we would not be in the position we are today without such fantastic co working with a charity who have tirelessly supported local NHS services. My thanks on behalf of the organisation."
If you would like to find out more, or feel that you would like to either volunteer or contribute to the ongoing success of the team, please visit their website: https://www.swbb.org.uk/
On their website, they also have comprehensive details of the ongoing fundraising events being held throughout Devon to support the remarkable work that they are doing in the community.