Remember the people in the process



A call from the Blood transfusion service last evening demonstrated the problem when people get forgotten in the process.

For a variety of reasons, having had to suspend giving blood for a while, I received a letter last week with an appointment for this Friday.  I telephoned and explained (as I had one three other occasions in the last 12 months)  that I wasn’t able to contribute for the foreseeable future.  However at 5.30 last night a very nice chap called to check I was attending.

I explained (again) that for the time being I can’t give blood.  “Shall I call next month” he enquired.  Thanking him, I suggested I let them know when I’ve got the all clear from the GP.

“Oh you can’t do that” he spluttered – “the system won’t allow it.  I need to put a date into the calendar”.

I explained (again) that I have no time frame at present so suggested he kick the date on for 12 months and if things change in the meantime, I will contact them to book an appointment.

He wasn’t happy.

“We need you to give blood regularly”.  I explained (again) that due to ongoing medical investigations, the recommendation is that giving blood will not be possible at the current time.  I resisted the urge to thank him for his understanding!

He wasn’t happy.

However, he did begrudingly kick the follow up on for 12 months.  He then added insult to injury by asking if I’d had any endoscopic examinations in the last six months.

So, now I was getting annoyed – “why do you need to know that if I’m not giving blood for the next 12 months” I asked.

“It’s a routine question, we have to complete the form in the system” was the response.

I told him that I wasn’t prepared to answer that question as it was irrelevant given the situation.

“But the system insists we complete this section”.  I explained (again, though in rather more exasperated terms), that as I was unable to give blood for the next few months, I didn’t see that the system needed to know and would be more than happy to respond to the question when resuming my blood donation.

He wasn’t happy!

A disgruntled “if you insist” was followed by a dialling tone!

As an ex NHS employee, I fully realise the importance of such donations and am a great supporter of the service.  This was however a prime example of the process becoming more important than the person.

Of course it is essential that for organisations to function appropriately and with good systems, excellent processes should be in place and followed.  The problem arises when those processes become the driver behind the behaviour and the people for whom the process is designed, become forgotten in the equation.

When able, I’ll be delighted to return to donating blood to this excellent public service.

In the meantime, I hope that someone looks at their processes for dealing with the donors and somewhere it becomes apparent that without these volunteers the process is completely obsolete.

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