Designing an end-to-end experience for donors with NHS Blood and Transplant

Ben Showers
Principal Consultant at FutureGov

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is on an exciting and significant journey of change. At the heart of this journey is an ambition to continuously put people at the centre of services and organisational culture — whether that’s internal staff, partners, donors or patients.

The continuing demand for their essential services through the pandemic has not only emphasised the national significance of NHSBT, but also the importance of being responsive and adaptive to the world in which we operate.

Working with NHSBT

We’ve been working with NHSBT to improve the donation experience, building lasting relationships with existing donors and with those who may have been unable to donate previously. 

The aim is to increase the amount of urgently needed donations while supporting people to donate multiple times.

A lot of our work has involved helping NHSBT speak to their donors, clinical staff and members of the public to understand how services can be improved. Fortunately, NHSBT has fantastic relationships with donors and we’ve uncovered interesting insights into people’s motivations, frustrations and suggestions for changes. 

Making donations easier

With these insights, we’ve been designing and testing ways to make donations easier, ultimately improving the experience for donors. Building on the research, we developed a number of prototypes that could be tested with donors and refined. 

One of the most popular was the idea of ‘immersive donor training’ prior to donating plasma. Giving donor’s information and advice in advance of a donation that could be read in their own time. 

​​While our work with NHSBT has been broad, covering areas from technical infrastructure and the replacement of clinical pagers through to design lunch-and-learns with the Executive Team, the convalescent plasma work exemplifies NHSBT’s approach of putting people first. 

Our work with NHSBT has culminated in the One Donor Vision, which has seen different directorates in NHSBT come together to design an end-to-end experience that puts the donor at the centre of services. We’ll be working with them on this, and bringing in an interim service owner over the coming months. 

People really want to help

NHSBT has incredible, long-term relationships with its donors, so the stories about the impact that donated blood and organs (as well as many other ‘products’, from skin to plasma) are visceral and real. 

From the research we’ve been part of, it’s clear people want to donate blood and understand the impact it has on people’s lives. When we carried out research as part of the Convalescent Plasma clinical trial with COVID-19 sufferers, it was clear people wanted to do something to tangibly contribute. Donating antibodies via their blood was their contribution – albeit one that required them to sit in a chair for a long time while the plasma was extracted. 

Similarly, it’s been an honour to be a part of NHSBT’s transformation mission to improve the donor experience and make sure the work they do delivers the clinical outcomes they want to achieve. 

It’s not always easy. NHSBT is a large, complex organisation that has traditionally had a waterfall approach to projects. But, they’ve brought us in to help change their approach to delivery and how they think and act as an organisation.

We’ll inevitably all be impacted in some way by an emergency that relies on NHSBT and the work they do (often behind the scenes). Being a part of their journey has been a real pleasure. 

Of course, you don’t need to be working for NHSBT to support them to do their life-saving work. As is so often the case, they need more blood donations. You can find out more and give blood near you by visiting their website

Ben Showers
Principal Consultant at FutureGov