The NHS is urging people to donate blood this Christmas as it deals with the busy festive period.

It launched an appeal to make sure every appointment is filled and turned into a life-saving donation.

The NHS is particularly busy in winter so blood donations are more important than ever, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

Appointments are currently available at the 25 permanent blood donor centres across England.

Health minister Andrea Leadsom said: “Christmas is a time for families and friends to get together but also a time to help others and what better way than to save a life.

“Giving blood is giving life to a stranger and by booking and keeping an appointment, blood donors are able to do something really special.

“So I urge people to spare just a small amount of time to make a big difference.”

Existing donors are being asked to come forward while new donors are being asked to sign up in the new year.

73,465 units of blood were collected and 74,467 were issued to hospitals between December 19, 2022 and January 8, 2023.

To meet the needs of patients across England, NHS Blood and Transplant needs to collect 1.45 million units of blood each year.

On average, 4,300 blood donations are required every day to cope with demand from hospitals and 140,000 new donors will be needed next year.

How to donate blood

Blood is needed to help the NHS treat patients with cancer, blood disorders and those suffering medical trauma or undergoing surgery.

Each donation can save or improve up to three lives.

People can register now and book an appointment at on the GiveBloodNHS app or call 0300 123 23 23.

Mark Chambers, director of donor experience at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We’re encouraging all of our amazing blood donors to please book and keep their appointments and help us save lives this Christmas.

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“Demand for lifesaving blood doesn’t stop for Christmas. Many patients will need transfusions over the festive period as treatment for a blood condition or cancer, or due to surgery, childbirth, or an accident.

“We’d also love to welcome anyone giving blood for the first time. If you don’t know your blood type you will find out after donating – you might find out you have the type patients especially need.

“It only takes an hour to give blood and each donation can help save or improve up to three lives.”