Red Cross revolt: Branch members denounce closure

LOCAL Red Cross members have denounced their own organisation and joined the protest against the closure of Griffith's blood bank.

Secretary of the Barellan branch of the Red Cross Judy Findlay signed a pointed letter on behalf of her membership accusing the charity of turning a blind eye to the bush.

"Our Barellan Red Cross members are most concerned that Red Cross in the city does not care; we are too far away to matter," Mrs Findlay said in the letter.

"We have members that are not happy as we consider this situation will impact on our fundraising as local people protest loudly against the closure of our Blood Service facility.

"As members of this important organisation, we urge the "powers that be" to reconsider the closure.

"The best outcome for all would be a separate facility, away from the hospital with its parking difficulties, where the caring staff could be re-employed and our donors could again donate blood at their convenience, as they have done for years."

Petitions were circulated throughout Griffith yesterday to bolster a motion passed by roughly 500 locals, who rallied outside the hospital last week.

"The sooner we can get a significant number of signatures, the sooner we can send it off to add weight to the resolution that has been sent to the Red Cross demanding our blood service be reinstated," Griffith blood donor Colin Denston said.

"Even though the blood bank has been closed down we don't want to lose the momentum because we know Red Cross Blood Services hopes our protest will just fade away."

Protest organisers hoped the Red Cross would reply to at least one of the letters sent by Riverina MP Michael McCormack, Member for Murrumbidgee Adrian Piccoli or Mayor John Dal Broi before attaching the petition to further correspondence.

Earlier this week the Red Cross distributed a myth-busting factsheet which it claimed would address misinformation being spread about the shift to a mobile blood donation service.

It claimed vital donations would not be lost in the move to a Mobile Donor Centre as “donor numbers in Griffith are currently low and predicted to continue declining” and preventing local staff from calling donors in favour of a call centre in Adelaide didn’t reduce donor numbers.   

Myth: Vital donations lost in the move to the Mobile Donor Centre. False: Donor numbers in Griffith are currently low and predicted to continue declining. We will be able to meet patient needs through a combination of our existing network of fixed and mobile donor centres across Australia, and blood collected at Griffith’s new mobile service when it begins in June.

Myth: I will have to line-up in the cold/heat to give blood. False: You will still need an appointment to give blood to ensure waiting times are minimal and limited only to donors scheduled to give blood. You can make an appointment by calling 13 14 95.

Myth: Not being able to phone donors locally has led to a decline in numbers. False: We call and send reminders to donors from our National Contact Centre in Adelaide which is staffed by people who are specially trained to deal with blood inquiries. This model works best for a national blood service as it allows staff in donor centres to focus on collecting blood from donors. Because our contact centre is open early and closes late, it is also more convenient for donors to schedule or reschedule appointments.

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