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The Fife Health Board Endowment Fund is to gift £5,000 to the Blood Bikes Scotland charity in recognition of their support offered during the covid-19 pandemic.

Blood Bikes Scotland is a registered charity which provides a free transportation service for a number of Health Boards in Scotland including NHS Fife. The charity delivers small urgent items including specimens, baby milk, medication and medical equipment that urgently need to be transported from one site to another, or from a patient’s home in the community.

Using a fleet of 12 motorbikes and a sponsored car, it offers its services free of charge to the NHS in Scotland as a means of ‘giving something back’. Blood Bikes Scotland is funded entirely through donations and is required to raise £3,500 each month to cover running costs alone.

Chairman of Blood Bikes Scotland, John Baxter, said of the donation:

We’re 100% self-funded so we have to bring in our own money through grants, sponsorship, events or even shaking a tin in a supermarket – our potential to fundraise has changed dramatically with recent events and our opportunity to fundraise via events, sponsorships and tin shaking has pretty much stopped at the moment.

“This is a huge contribution to us and it will help us to run the bikes for an extended period whilst the pandemic is continuing. We would like to thank the Fife Endowment Fund for this very generous donation”

Prior to the covid-19 pandemic, Blood Bikes Scotland provided a weekend service to NHS Fife totalling 64 hours per month. The group are now supporting NHS Fife across 7 days and their support has increased 700% since the start of the pandemic.

The charity’s primary support over recent months has been to do two-hourly shuttle runs between NHS Fife’s drive-through testing facility at Cameron Hospital and the Board’s microbiology laboratory at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy. These runs supplement the Board’s own transport service and enables samples to get to the laboratories much quicker than they ordinarily would. This not only improves the overall efficiency of service, it also means that many of those tested can get their results earlier, in some cases the very same day.

Blood Bikes Scotland have also began collecting samples from local care homes to speed up the testing process and help reduce spread of the virus amongst some of Fife’s most vulnerable residents.

Swabs from more than 5,000 people have been tested in Fife’s laboratories since local testing began. As many as 300 possible covid-19 samples can be processed each day and capacity continues to expand to meet the increasing demand for testing.

This contribution toward Blood Bikes Scotland was made possible following a £500k donation to the Endowment Fund from an anonymous donor last month. Some of this money has already been used to make a donation to Maggie’s Centre Kirkcaldy and to fund the purchase of around 100 iPads to enable patients to remain in touch with friends and loved ones while in hospital.

Rt Hon Tricia Marwick, who is the chair of the Endowment Fund’s Board of Trustees in addition to her role as chair of Fife Health Board, said of the donation:

“The donation of £500k to our Endowment Fund was an incredible act of generosity and we have a responsibility to use this money in a way that provides maximum benefit for patients in Fife, and the healthcare staff working tirelessly to care for them.

“Blood Bikes Scotland have assisted NHS Fife for a number of years, and since the start of the pandemic their support has proven invaluable. The role they play in transporting samples is not only helping to increase testing capacity, it is also enabling many people to receive their results much earlier than they ordinarily would.

“The efforts of Blood Bikes Scotland in helping NHS Fife to respond to covid-19 cannot be underestimated and has provided a direct benefit for patients. The Endowment Fund’s awarding of £5,000 is intended as an acknowledgement of this and we want to thank them for their continued efforts to support the people of Fife.”