BLOOD donors are being urged to keep their appointments during the coronavirus outbreak – and new donors encouraged to sign up and help save lives.

Donations are currently 15 per cent lower than expected, according to NHS Blood and Transplant, as blood donors are unsure whether they are allowed to travel to sessions and whether sessions are still going ahead.

Stocks remain at a "good" level currently but health chiefs are keen to ensure regular donations over the coming months.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, Dudley's cabinet member for health and adult social care at Dudley Council, said: “NHS Blood and Transplant needs to collect around 5,000 units of blood a day, and each donation can save up to three lives.

“So if you are an existing donor and you are well, the message is clear – it is vital for you to donate blood at this time. And if you have not donated before, there’s never been a more important time to think about doing so.

“Despite the social distancing measures we all need to be following at this time, travelling to donation sessions is permitted because hospitals need our blood supply now and in the coming weeks more than ever. However, donors are asked to attend their appointment alone if at all possible."

New and existing donors should be well enough to visit a clinic, but they must stay away if they have any potential symptoms of coronavirus such as a high temperature or a new, continuous cough.

Due to the Government’s social distancing measures, people aged 70 or over and those who are particularly vulnerable are currently unable to donate.

Donation teams are also taking extra hygiene precautions and observing social distancing measures to alleviate any concerns about the transmission of the virus.

Dr David Hegarty, chairman of Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Giving blood is essential to the NHS and vulnerable patients.

"Blood donation saves lives and over the next few weeks and months we will need our donors more than ever, so please keep your appointment to donate if you can.”

To register as a blood donor visit, call 0300 123 23 23 or download the Give Blood app from the App Store or Google Play.

Appointments can be booked online and people can choose where they wish to donate.