Review by the Chief Executive
The year 2020 was exceptional for the whole of society, as the coronavirus epidemic rapidly spread to become a global pandemic. The Blood Service already had an emergency plan for pandemics, and this was now put to the real test.
In the spring, the number of blood donations dropped significantly at the Blood Service due to the restrictions on gatherings imposed by the authorities. Fortunately the effect was temporary, thanks to support given by the authorities and to frequent communications. As the healthcare sector prepared for treating coronavirus patients and postponed non-urgent treatments, the use of blood products decreased by about 20%. Due to the decline in the need for blood products, some blood donation events arranged by the Blood Service were cancelled and less blood was collected to correspond with the new requirement.
The first wave of coronavirus was much shorter than expected, and by midsummer the need for blood products had returned to normal. Returning donations to the normal level in the middle of summer was challenging, but there was no shortage of blood products.
Regardless of the exceptional circumstances, we have been able to press ahead with significant development projects. A new data system for the management of blood donation, blood product manufacture and the supply chain was introduced in May. About the same time, construction work on the new premises for the Blood Service began in Vehkala, Vantaa.
The Blood Service has also managed to keep its promise to the Finnish healthcare system. This is mainly thanks to the committed blood donors who have lent a helping hand to patients despite the ongoing uncertainty. Our staff have had to work under a lot of pressure and maintain adherence to strict hygiene practices. Blood donation visits have been safe thanks to these strict practices.
I’d like to express my warmest thanks to all blood donors and our fantastic nurses working in the front line, our manufacturing and laboratory staff, and all our other great employees for keeping the system running. Supervisors have had an important role, as we’ve been adapting to the changing situation; they have secured safe conditions for our employees as well as for blood donors.
Martti Syrjälä, Professor
Chief Executive of the Blood Service