Bloody changes

I went to give blood yesterday – something I’ve been doing every 4-6 months for the past few years. During all that time, I don’t think the procedure has remained quite the same for more than a single session.

Every time I go the layout of the various “stations” in the hall has moved around in order to optimise the flow of people through each different stage of the process. The way that they dress the puncture wound in your arm has changed. Routine administration of local anaesthetic has been withdrawn (it’s available on demand). Even the distribution of the free drink and biscuits at the end has changed slightly.

Years ago I was asked to vacate the bed as soon as I’d given blood, but to rest at the drink station for a while. More recently I was told to lie down on the bed for ten minutes, and then to also rest at the drink station. Yesterday they were back to the more immediate vacation and rest at the drink station – but with an extra glass or two of water on arrival.

The thing is, these are all incremental changes. Just small alterations to their protocols as they try to iteratively find solutions that are optimal for both their staff and the donors. The nurses always seem well informed about the current protocols, and are always friendly and helpful.

I recently introduced a new phone system at our office. Everyone bitched and moaned.

After years of complaining about our old Exchange email system we’ve moved to something else. Everyone is bitching and moaning.

It would be easy for the National Blood Service to rest on their laurels and leave their systems and procedures alone. They worked well enough five years ago, so why not now. But I admire the fact that they constantly strive to improve – that they’re never satisfied with “good enough”. And I certainly admire the way that they seem to have instilled this same ethic in their nurses and other staff. I just wish they would reveal their secret, because I’ve got a group of luddite colleagues here who could definitely do with an attitude transfusion.

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