Patient education: Consent for blood transfusion

Joanne Gregory, Blood Health Advisor

Stephanie Ditcham, Blood Health Advisor & Scientific Lead North Wales

Welsh Blood Service, Velindre University NHS Trust



Vale People First


This Bevan exemplar project examined alternative ways of delivering Transfusion based patient information using a co-productive approach


The case for high quality, personalised health information is compelling, a view which is reflected in healthcare policy across the UK. As an intervention health information ensures that individuals are able to make informed decisions regarding their own care and aids in the informed consent process.

The Welsh Blood Service (WBS) are responsible for designing and producing transfusion based Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) for patients across Wales in the format of a text based leaflet. They are regularly reviewed for accuracy and content but have not significantly altered in their delivery or format since their introduction over a decade ago. This process is overseen by the Blood Health Team (BHT) whose remit includes managing the access, sharing and flow of information to hospitals in Wales.

A local review undertaken by the BHT in 2018 identified that the current leaflets were not being well utilised in practice or used effectively, this was in part due to the patient not fully understanding the content and not always being easily accessible at point of need. It is well recognised that there is a large proportion of the general population that have a limited health literacy with 1 in 5 adults finding it difficult to read at a 12 year old level or above, which brings into question the effectiveness of text based leaflets as a single health information resource.

Project Aims

The main aim of the project was to review current transfusion based patient information in particular the most utilised PIL ‘Will I need a blood transfusion?’ as a starting point with a longer term aim of developing a patient information strategy and a review of all our patient information. We wanted to ensure that we took a co-productive approach to producing clear, concise and understandable transfusion based information, tailored to the needs of patients in Wales which would include examining alternative formats and technology.

A secondary aim was to review accessibility to ensure we had a process in place whereby patient information could be available at the point of delivery/need to improve shared decision making and ensure a robust informed consent process for transfusion.


Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we were unable to follow our initial project plan of formulating public/patient and clinical forum groups. In order to meet these aims we had to adapt our approach. We decided to produce a survey to disseminate to members of the public and patients in Wales.

The main challenge to us was how we could generate interested parties who would provide us with a rich data source. We contacted engagement leads within local health boards to ask for their assistance in this task by disseminating our survey amongst their own established public/participation groups. We had an excellent response especially considering we were in a pandemic which demonstrates how people come together during times of adversity.

Key Outcomes

Pie chart showing results of preference for information to be presented survey

Next Steps

Our Exemplar Experience

Bevan opens your eyes to what is available and achievable. We as a team found the process empowering and engaging.

Further information

Patient Information forum report – Making the Case for Information

Health literacy and health information producers

WeAreQR – Digital information Hub

The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SABTO)



Bevan Exemplars Innovation Showcase: December 2020