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Blood donor questions become gender neutral in bid to be more inclusive

·2-min read

Questions asked of blood donors are to change from next month in a bid to make the process more inclusive.

Anyone wishing to donate blood, plasma and platelets will be asked the same sexual behaviour questions, regardless of their gender.

The change, which will take effect from June 14, will mean more people from LGBT+ communities will be eligible to donate, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said.

The organisation said the change will not affect safety, or the process of giving blood.

The newly renamed Donation Safety Check form will ask any individual who wishes to give blood – of any gender – if they have had sex and, if so, about recent sexual behaviours.

Donors were previously asked if they are a man who has had sex with another man.

The change follows a review by the Fair (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) steering group led by NHSBT.

That review concluded that using an individualised, gender neutral approach would be more fair and still allow the safety of the blood supply to be maintained.

Minister for blood donation, Lord Bethell, said: “Today marks another significant step forward in our ambition to make blood donation policy fairer and more inclusive, allowing as many people as possible to make the life-saving decision to give blood safely.

“I want to thank members of the FAIR steering group, including LGBT charities, who have been instrumental in enabling us to get to this moment. I encourage everyone who is able to: register to donate.”

Ella Poppitt, chief nurse for blood donation at NHSBT, said patient safety “is at the heart of everything we do” and next month’s change is about “switching around how we assess the risk of exposure to a sexual infection, so it is more tailored to the individual”.

She added: “Our priority is to make sure that donors are able to answer the pre-donation questions in a setting that makes them feel comfortable and safe. Staff are receiving training to make sure these more personal conversations are conducted with care and sensitivity and accurate information is captured.

“We are notifying donors of the changes so they can consider the new questions before their appointment and are able to re-schedule if they do not meet the changed criteria to give blood right now.

“We want donation to be a positive experience and we are looking forward to welcoming donors as we move forward with these changes.”

Nancy Kelley, chief executive of campaign group Stonewall, said: “We support a blood donation system that allows the greatest number of people to donate safely.

“By linking donor eligibility to health, travel and sexual activity with an individualised assessment of risk, these changes will help ensure more people, including gay and bi men, can donate blood.”

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