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The NHS lose letters to gain blood

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The more observant amongst you might have noticed letters going missing from UK streets these last few days. I know what you're thinking, but no, we haven't been struck by a wave of vowel hating miscreants (though wouldn't that be something). The missing letters are actually part of a clever campaign by the NHS, which encourages blood donation during National Blood Week (June 8-14) by taking away A, O and B letters (used to denote blood types) from some of the country's most established brands. The idea of the #MissingType campaign is to prove the importance of blood donation, by making us realise how vital it is for all sorts of medical procedures, not just emergencies. It's a pretty jarring and very effective idea, unless you relish the idea of chowing down on a “Pt Ndle” during your next lunch break that is.

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As well as famous street signs like London’s Downing Street dropping their letters, big brand names such as Waterstones books, chocolate company Green & Black’s, and cinema chain Odeon have all removed their As, Os and Bs in support of the campaign. It's all in an effort to gain more than 204,000 new donors to replace those who can no longer donate, and to make sure there is the right mix of blood groups.
 According to NHS Blood and Transplant, there were 40% fewer new blood donors last year than there were ten years ago, so it's needed now more than ever before!

A clever campaign by the NHS encourages blood donation during National Blood Week by taking away A, O and B letters from some of the country's most established brands

The eye-catching work is backed by a social media campaign developed in-house and by Twenty Six Digital. The idea is that the public will also become part of the campaign by dropping letters from their social media profiles and posting images of people supporting blood donation with letters missing from their names. It will be backed up with PR activity, targeting TV, radio, print and digital media, with case studies and research highlighting local support for the campaign and addressing the common myths of blood donation. NHS Blood and Transplant has also created a digital appointment-based system and app available on tablet and mobile devices, which make it easier for people to book donation appointments. To date, these systems have already been used by over 700,000 people!

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Jon Latham, the assistant director for Donor Services and Marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant, said the campaign aimed to “Strengthen the donor base for the future.” He explained the reasons why there has been a decline in new people donating: "We know that people’s lives have got busier over the last decade. People are working longer hours, commuting further, spending more time online and have less time of their own, despite more options of how to use it.” An NHS Spokesperson added that the problem is not with existing donors, but with a lack of (excuse the pun) new blood: “We have the biggest social media following of any blood service in the world and a very engaged community, but they’re often people who have already donated themselves.

According to NHS Blood Transplant, there were 40% fewer new blood donors last year than there were ten years ago, so it's needed now more than ever before!

Latham added: “Good causes are also competing increasingly for people’s attention and time.” He also feels that “Travel to more exotic places, tattoos and investigations such as endoscopy are becoming more common and these lead to short term deferrals from donation.” It's hoped, however, that this campaign could help reverse the trend. If you want to get involved, you can visit www.blood.co.uk to find out if you're an eligible donor and book an appointment.

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