People's History of the NHS

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Encouraging Blood Donation

Following the Second World War, the Blood Transfusion Service was established in 1946 to encourage members of the public to come forward and donate. It grew out of local blood transfusion services that had proliferated during the interwar and wartime years. With the establishment of the NHS in 1948, this Service became responsible for collecting and supplying blood to the NHS and as a result, the Ministry of Health began to produce dedicated publicity materials aimed at encouraging donation. Fitting into wider postwar concerns over child health and welfare, much of the early publicity efforts concentrated on encouraging donations to help save the lives of children. Photographs of 'real' children were used regularly to create a sense of urgency on the part of viewer. As the century progressed, donation publicity was used to counter fears over contaminated blood products - emphasising hygiene, especially in relation to fears over AIDS transmission and the hepatitis C scandal. By the 1990s, publicity efforts were often accompanied by donor drives. Mobile donation clinics were used to bring donation services into communities for short-lived drives that used tailored advertising to both recruit new donors and encourage existing ones to donate again. This use of targeted short-lived campaigning drives, particularly at local level, has become an increasingly visible part of contemporary blood donation.

Find out more about the history of blood donation and the NHS here.

JH

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