WIRRAL blood donors who are O-Rhesus negative are being urged to give blood now following a fall in supplies over the festive period.

The NHS Blood and Transplant services says stocks can often dip around holiday time as people get distracted and can't always attend their sessions.

It adds that the recent outbreak of norovirus has led to a dramatic increase in the number of people correctly cancelling their appointments.

Although hospitals across the country have increased their stocks of blood to cover the extended holiday period.

According to NHBST figures 50% more O- was issued to hospitals on Christmas Eve than on an average day and on New Year’s Eve 35% more.

There has been a recent high demand for O- blood to meet patient need, meaning stocks have fallen.

Jon Latham, from NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "We would like to urge all O-donors to walk into their most convenient donor session to give blood to help rebuild stock levels.

"We are always grateful to donors who respond to calls such as this and appreciate that in doing so they do give up some of their precious time.

"Waiting times may vary in the next few days as we try to accommodate all donors.

"Demand for blood never stops and O- donors can help to ensure healthy blood stocks in the upcoming weeks, by giving blood now and in the next few days."

Donors with blood group O- negative are commonly known as the 'universal donor' as their blood can be given to patients with a different blood group.

This can prove vital in an emergency situation where there may not be time for an immediate blood group testing to be carried out. Approximately 7% of the population have this blood group.

Healthy blood stocks are vital to ensure that patients undergoing surgery and receiving treatment for cancer and blood diseases, such as leukaemia, continue to receive the transfusions they need.

Anyone aged between 17-65, weighing more than 50 kg (7 stone 12lbs) and in general good health could potentially start saving lives by becoming a blood donor. There is no upper age limit for donors who have donated in the last two years.

For more information, to book an appointment or to find a local blood donor session please call 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.blood.co.uk