Great North Air Ambulance Service delivers blood transfusion to 500 patients

Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) celebrates milestone as 500 patients receive blood on board.

In 2015, GNAAS began carrying blood and plasma on board their aircraft and overnight cars. This introduction allowed the critical care team to deliver transfusions at the scene of an incident, to the most seriously ill or injured patients, giving them the best chance of survival until they arrived at hospital.

Since then 500 patients in the North East and Cumbria have received blood transfusions on board.

The ‘Blood on Board’ scheme is a collaboration between the Newcastle Hospitals, GNAAS and volunteers from the Cumbria and Northumbria Blood Bikes and was devised by Dr Rachel Hawes OBE, army reservist, consultant in anaesthesia and prehospital emergency medicine at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) and doctor at GNAAS.

A casualty has been taken to hospital after the A1(M) was temporarily closed to allow the air ambulance to land.


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She said: “It’s been such a rewarding experience and I can’t believe we’ve now treated 500 patients.

“Knowing that it’s potentially helped to save the lives of people in our communities in the North East and Cumbria has been one of the highlights of my career.”

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To honour those that have received this treatment, and celebrate the milestone, the collaborative team hosted a special reception at the RVI for patients who have received blood and their loved ones.


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At the event attendees had the chance to meet the pioneers behind the concept for the first time, take a look around GNAAS’ helicopter on the RVI helipad, visit the blood transfusion lab and meet the Blood Bikers.

Before ‘Blood on Board’ was introduced, patients would have to wait until they had been transferred to the nearest Major Trauma Centre for highly specialist treatment.

Dr Hawes added: “Delivering this project has been down to teamwork on every level and we wouldn’t be able to run this service without all of their hard work.

“The transfusion lab team at the RVI do all the unseen work in the background to prepare and package up the units for us and make sure it’s all safe, and the teams from Northumbria Blood Bikes and Blood Bikes Cumbria provide a daily delivery service to both of our air bases 365 days per year come rain or shine!"