A ‘BLOOD Bike’ service will soon be providing emergency help across East Lancashire.

Volunteer motorcylists have formed a charity called the North West Blood Bikes Lancs and Lakes (NWBB L&L), with the aim of transporting blood, breast milk for premature babies, and other urgent medical items out of hours for local hospitals.

Since beginning in Chorley and Preston in May, the group has made 220 deliveries. Now East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust have agreed to join up.

Charity chairman Paul Brooks said: “Hospitals are so busy transporting things like samples and blood after emergency accidents, that they are having to make five to six taxi runs every night.

“Two hospitals we cover elsewhere in Lancashire pay £5,000 a month in taxi and courier fares, so that’s £60,000 a year, or the salary of two specialist nurses.

“I’ve now spoken to the pathologist lab covering Burnley and Blackburn hospitals, and we have guaranteed them that will be able to do at least one, if not two of those runs every night.

“We want to help save the hospitals some money and enhance patient care.”

Fifty six people currently volunteer for NWBB L&L, working a rota system from 7pm to 6am on weekdays, and from 7pm on a Friday to 6am on a Monday.

Each rider has to undergo rigorous driving tests, with the option of advanced driving and ‘blues and twos’ training. The charity has two dedicated bikes, but the majority of volunteers use their own vehicle, with no financial reinbursement.

As well as riders, the charity is also looking to recruit controllers who co-ordinate where deliveries and collections need to be made.

Mr Brooks said: “A lot of the volunteers have links to the NHS or have had some involvement, and want to give something back.

“As a retired traffic officer I saw some horrendous crashes and worked with the NHS on many occasions.

“Another one of our volunteers is a former ambulance paramedic who had to give up after breaking his neck in the line of work.”

The charity need to raise in the region of £7,000 a year to maintain the motorbikes, and to help find the money, a ‘Scrabble Run’ -a word version of a treasure hunt - has been organised by the Baxenden and District Motorcycle Club tomorrow (sat).

The run starts at 12noon from the Dog and Partridge pub, Back Lane, Baxenden.

Volunteer motorcyclist, controllers and sponsors can contact the organisation via www.nwbb-lancs.org