VOLUNTEER motorcyclists are transporting blood samples between hospitals in East Lancashire, saving the NHS thousands per year.

Bosses at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals said The North West Blood Bikes charity could save their pathology department up to £20,000 per year, by cutting their use of out-of-hours taxis.

The charity began working across Lancashire and the Lakes in 2012, although the project was slow to get off the ground at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT).

But Paul Brooks, chairman of NWBB Lancs and Lakes, said the trust’s new pathology manager, Jeff Cottam, kick-started the scheme last month.

He said: “Jeff got everyone on board straight away and we then went full bore. We have at least two runs every night and 10 to 12 every day at the weekend for ELHT.”

The bikers transport blood samples and medical records between hospital sites, while pharmacy teams are also expected to use the service.

Mr Brooks added: “We currently have 224 volunteers in six areas [who] receive no payment and are not reimbursed with expenses.

“I have to say, it is sometimes worrying whether we can keep up, but we do.

“It’s frightening to see how much the NHS has wasted on taxis and courier services. At a very conservative estimate based on a £40 taxi ride, we have saved our local hospitals in excess of £135,000 in the 20 months we have been running.”

Mr Cottam said: “When I first heard about the North West Blood Bikes I could not believe they volunteer their services for free. “Dedication like this is truly a rarity.

“Pathology currently spends £20,000 each year on an out-of-hours taxi service. However, due to the dedication of the blood bike volunteers this money can now be utilised to improve our services further to the benefit of our patients and the local community.”