Regular blood donors are the cornerstone of blood safety and voluntary blood donation. The retention of blood donors is directly related with the experience they have when they come to donate blood. Quality, safety and donor retention are inseparable. Continuous focus on quality and safety is an essential responsibility of every organisation which is involved in the process of voluntary blood donation.
Each blood donation drive organised by Sankalp India Foundation involves monitoring of the essential quality and safety parameters. At the end of each camp we list out whether the guidelines associated with the critical aspects (or parameters) were followed or not. The compliance or non-compliance of the blood banks is recorded and shared with them. The aim of this exercise is to clearly identify the aspects of blood donation camp which are found to be wanting in terms of quality and safety and progressively work towards reducing non-compliance. While we share the performance at the end of each drive with the blood banks, we also share annual performance with the blood banks engaging with them on a year on year basis to explore how the events of non-compliance can be reduced.
The month of January was spent by the Rakta Kranti team in visiting the various blood banks with whom we do blood donation drives and share the annual feedback. So, does this exercise done at the end of the camps and then again at the end of each year help? The data with the organisation shows that it does. Last year saw marked improvement in average non-compliance for most blood banks. Large improvement was seen as far as punctuality, usage of gloves, attending to post donation reaction and hygiene issues are concerned. As far as giving adequate rest to donors, getting adequate refreshment and certificates, getting adequate number of technicians etc. is concerned, there was little difference compared to last year. Last year saw more emphasis and better monitoring of donor screening, deferrals and process used for haemoglobin estimation - leading to recording of greater non-compliance.
We must congratulate the blood banks who have actively and enthusiastically participated in the process of monitoring of non-compliance and thereby work towards reducing them. By enhancing compliance to parameters associated with quality and safety, some blood banks were able to move from a peripheral participation to mainstream participation in voluntary blood donation camps.
One may wonder why the non-compliance in blood donation drives can’t limited to zero? Blood donation drives are extremely challenging from the staffing point of view. The typical 6-8 hours of the blood donation camp are not the full working day for blood bank team. The time from blood bank to the venue and back adds up. So does the preparation for the camp before leaving the blood bank and the work involved after reaching the blood bank including component separation. Most blood banks run on just enough staff members to take care of regular blood bank work. In this situation, attending camps requires the team to stretch themselves. The blood donation drive offers the donors the comfort of donating within their workplace, but this is made possible because of 12-14 hours of working timing for the staff members. With insufficient manpower being a problem not limited to a few - but almost all blood banks, it is difficult to reach a situation of zero non-compliance without significant changes in the structure of blood donation services. Regular monitoring of non-compliances helps monitor the quality being delivered to the donors and uncover the real persistent issues which are confronting the blood donation services. Establishing the problems and identifying their root cause is the first step towards solving them. And we have seen that the blood banks are happy to strive to reduce non-compliance.
Blood bank medical officers from all institutions where Sankalp has organised 10 or more blood donation drives expressed their desire to work towards improving compliance by promising to address the top 3 non-compliance for their institutions. All of them have also willingly accepted to bring their institutions into regular training routines and work together to develop a common framework to address uniformity in donor selection and deferrals.