BLOOD donors who are O Rh negative (O-) are being asked to come forward to give blood now following the festive period.
Blood stocks can often dip around holiday time as people get distracted and cannot always attend their sessions.
Also NHS Blood and Transplant says the recent outbreak of norovirus led to an increase in the number of people correctly cancelling their appointments with non-attendance by O- donors increasing by 50 per cent just before New Year.
Hospitals have increased their stocks of blood to cover the extended holiday period but there has been a recent high demand for O- blood to meet patient need, meaning stocks have fallen.
NHS Blood and Transplant’s assistant director, Jon Latham, said: “We would like to urge all O- donors to walk into their most convenient donor session to give blood to help rebuild stock levels.
“We are always grateful to donors who respond to calls such as this and appreciate that in doing so they do give up some of their precious time.
“Waiting times may vary in the next few days as we try to accommodate all donors.
“Demand for blood never stops and O- donors can help to ensure healthy blood stocks in the upcoming weeks, by giving blood now and in the next few days.”
Donors with blood group O- negative are commonly known as the universal donor as their blood can be given to patients with a different blood group.
This can prove vital in an emergency situation where there may not be time for an immediate blood group testing to be carried out.
Approximately seven per cent of the population have this blood group.
Healthy blood stocks are vital to ensure that patients undergoing surgery and receiving treatment for cancer and blood diseases, such as leukaemia, continue to receive the transfusions they need.
Anyone aged between 17 and 65, weighing more than 50 kg (7 stone 12lbs) and in general good health could potentially start saving lives by becoming a blood donor.
There is no upper age limit for donors who have donated in the last two years.
For more information, to book an appointment or to find a local blood donor session call 03001 232323 or visit blood.co.uk