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Government Petition Lodged for National Association of Blood Bikes to be exempt from fuel duty

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BBC News reported last week, that the RAC Foundation along with Fair Fuel UK were calling upon the Chancellor to cut fuel duty in the budget this month in order to relieve hardship for members of the public.

It was quoted that a quarter of people’s salaries are spent on running their cars. In some areas fuel has risen by as much as 4p in a week, yet more than half of the price of a litre of unleaded at the pumps is tax and VAT. Both petrol and diesel are approaching record levels, yet little, if anything has been reported about the impact that the soaring fuel tax has on charities that such as The Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes, who each year are forced to meet such costs.

The Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes is a charity that transports blood, plasma, platelets, samples, vaccines, human breast milk and other urgently required medical items to hospitals and special baby units - completely free of charge. It is run by dedicated volunteers who receive no financial compensation for their time or costs, allowing the NHS to divert funds to where they are needed most. This out of hour’s medical essentials courier service completely depends on public donations.

Ahead of the budget on March 20 2013 - the charity has launched a campaign to force a debate about tax cuts for them and other 'blood bikes' operating in the UK. The Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes have lodged a petition with the Treasury, calling on the government to have an urgent review of this situation and in doing so, to call upon the government to return in the form of grants to Bloodbike member groups all future fuel duty which the Treasury collects from them.

So far over 1400 people have signed the petition which closes tomorrow!

National Association of Bloodbikes Treasurer Gordon Downie said: "Our fuel costs are just going up and up and that makes it very difficult for us to continue our vital service. With no assistance or government funding, charities like ours are already feeling the strain on the recession, but it’s the fuel costs that hits us the hardest, not getting any exemption from fuel duty. We are hoping people will back our campaign to force the Government to debate that matter. Allowing The National Association of Blood Bike groups to recoup fuel duty would not only assist us, but to the public and NHS at large – as we could be able expand the vital service operations throughout the country.”

Will your next journey save a life?

Why do we need The National Association of Blood Bikes...

The National Health Service does not have unlimited resources. One area that is very costly to the NHS is courier services. Most hospitals operate an internal courier service to ferry diagnostic specimens, blood, notes, x-rays, scans and other medical equipment between themselves and other hospitals in the area. These services generally operate during office hours, which means that in the evening and at weekends the hospitals need to make alternative provision for items that need to be transported there and then. In many cases this alternative provision is to use a taxi. With taxi rates around £2 per mile and even more at night, it doesn't take much for a hospital to run up huge bills. In the South West of England, for example, NHS Blood and Transplant have a regional processing and distribution centre at Filton near Bristol. Many hospitals across the South and South West of England send samples to Filton for urgent cross-matching. This can involve journeys such as 100 miles from QA Hospital in Portsmouth costing £240, or 80 miles from the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital costing £190, but the blood bikes that do this for free, often working together so that a blood bike group in one area hands over at the edge of its area to their neighbouring group. This relay approach used by blood bike guards against rider fatigue on long journeys, ensuring safe and efficient transport of precious cargo as well as protecting rider safety.

So why should blood bike groups do this? It is very simple - if they didn't then more money would have to be found from the taxpayer. Blood bike volunteers give their time, and sometimes their own money, freely. In 2010, just one NABB member group made 2,500 deliveries and travelled over 100,000 miles at a cost of around £25,000 - all of which was paid for by charitable donations. If the NHS had used taxis for the same journeys it would have cost more than £120,000. If hospitals had tried to do it using their own motorcycles and paid staff it would have cost closer to £300,000.

Saving Lives

There are times when blood or other medical items need to be transported urgently because a patient's life is at risk. A blood bike can be relied upon to respond quickly and move with ease through busy traffic, even if it is not fitted with emergency lights and sirens. Furthermore the groups can guarantee to be available after 11:00pm on a Saturday night when the chances of getting a taxi to respond in less than an hour would be slim. To steal from the Mastercard advertisements, Taxi - £100, Commercial courier - £80, Blood Bike - £0, saving a patient's life - priceless!

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