Forecasting blood donations - Our National Collections Coordinators Role

Responsible for maintaining and managing blood stock levels at New Zealand Blood Service, Linda Ayson’s challenging role as the National Collections Co-ordinator is the perfect combination of working with numbers and people – her two favourite things.

“There is a lot of data to constantly sift through to accurately forecast our daily requirements to meet the demand for blood and blood products.

Bags of blood

“Like the weather, we have a long-term forecast, but we also work to a much more accurate two-day forecast for the whole country. It’s essential for us to do the numbers and be as accurate as possible so we can be prepared for anything.

“Everything from current stock levels, appointments booked, the number of estimated walk-in donors (donors without appointments) at mobile blood drives, and even hospital usage of blood and blood products is taken into account, so it’s a vast amount of data.

“Once we have the forecast, I then relay this information to our fantastic call centre team. 30 customer service representatives are in charge of calling donors to fill up the appointment slots, which includes calling donors by blood type so that we can ensure we always have the right donors with the blood types needed, donating in the right region at the right time.”

According to Linda, rural areas that consistently donate well include Gisborne, New Plymouth, Whangarei and Invercargill.

However, Linda admits that the mammoth task of managing stock levels over the summer holiday period can be a tricky storm to weather.

“Previously we used to ramp up stock in the lead up to Christmas to ensure we had our bases covered as many donors went on holiday and weren’t as readily available as other times during the year. However technology has enabled us to work much smarter and be more concise with our stock levels, so we no longer need the huge ramp up as we can now more accurately predict what is required, while being able to cope with any unexpected situations or conditions. As blood has an expiry date, we’re incredibly careful to keep wastage as low as possible, which means only calling on donors when we need them to donate.”

And what does Linda love about her role the most?

“I find it so inspiring to hear what motivates our amazing donors to donate. Quite often it’s their personal connections that encourage them – especially if they know someone who has needed life-saving blood or blood products in the past.

“One donor said to me that they like to donate blood over the summer holiday period because they consider it their Christmas present to New Zealanders. What better gift is there than the gift of life?”

To book an appointment to donate, click here or phone 0800 GIVE BLOOD.

Published on: 24 Jan 2014

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