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Hands crunch halts blood camps
- Donation drives called off for lack of technicians at NBMCH

Siliguri, Nov. 14: The North Bengal Medical College and Hospital has stopped providing technicians to blood donation camps since last Saturday citing a staff crunch at its transfusion centre, which has resulted in the halt of a life-saving service.

Two technicians from the regional blood transfusion centre at the NBMCH were transferred to hospitals in south Bengal on Saturday heeding an order issued by Swasthya Bhavan in Calcutta.

“We had three blood donation camps scheduled this month from where at least 300 units were supposed to be collected. But the transfusion centre informed us on Saturday that the camps have been cancelled, as they do not have enough technicians to run the camps. This will cause shortage of blood in blood banks and cause inconvenience to patients. Trauma patients and those who are about to undergo surgeries will suffer,” said Pijush Kanti Roy, the secretary of Siliguri Voluntary Blood Donors’ Forum.

The transfusion centre admitted that it could not provide technicians for blood donation camps as they were grappling with staff shortage for the last three months.

There were nine technicians at the NBMCH transfusion centre of which one was transferred earlier. After this Saturday’s notice, the centre has six technicians, who don’t just draw the blood from donors, but also collect the samples and take them to the transfusion centre and separate their components.

“At present, we are left with six technicians. We are unable to spare them for blood donation camps because we require them to conduct tests, do blood component separations, collect and supply blood at the transfusion laboratory. We have already cancelled five such camps since Saturday,” said Mridumoy Das, the transfusuion centre director.

Since last week, the centre has also faced acute shortage of blood.

“We are left with just 36 units of blood. There is no stock for blood of AB+ and B+ groups at all,” Das said.

“We supply not less than 70 units of blood every day and in order to maintain an uninterrupted supply, we need to maintain a stock of not less than 500 units every day. Ideally, we require 14 technicians to run the centre smoothly but have only six with us,” Das said.

“We have already informed higher authorities at Swasthya Bhavan about the staff crisis,” Sabyasachi Das, the NBMCH superintendent, said.

The transfusion centre at NBMCH co-ordinates activities of 12 blood banks in six north Bengal districts.

Apart from Siliguri and its surrounding areas, the transfusion centre also caters to blood requirements of private and government hospitals in the six districts. It also houses a blood component separation unit — the only such facility in north Bengal.