I give blood. I do so out of a sense of civic responsibility though it could be because I am pompous and enjoy that feeling of self-righteous smug satisfaction. I have a silver card which is somewhere between twenty five and forty nine donations. I don’t think I’ll ever get to eat at the Palace.
Over the years I have seen many changes in the blood service. It has gone from a quaint, almost amateurish affair to a slick and highly professional organization. My comments are not meant in a bad way, its drive to improve efficiency has been impressive. Of late I have been going around three times a year and on every occasion something new has been introduced that improves the flow of donors or reduces infection rates.
I used to have to turn up and wait my turn, sitting in neat rows with all the other donors but now everything is pre-booked and waiting is almost negligible, until last week that is.
I arrived fairly early for my slot but twenty minutes after my given time I was eventually called. By this time I was up against it. I had another appointment to go to and there was not enough time left to donate. The nurse told me that they were short staffed and so I had to leave it. Later, at home, I tried to re-book online only to get caught in a spiral of registration. Round and round I went until I eventually gave up in a petulant strop.
It was as if I was in an air traffic control nightmare. I had missed my slot and may never get back into the system. By the time I get a new appointment, all of the best times, those that suit me, will have gone. I’m sure the blood service is bigger than just me.
It seems to me that, in its drive to be effective, the service has become over efficient. There is no slack in the system. Variability it’s not allowed. Yet in any system that employs humans, variability is inevitable.
Perhaps efficiency and effectiveness follow a Laffer curve. Once you get to a certain point the service starts to deteriorate. The key is therefore, to find the sweet spot.
I’ll come down from my high-horse in a while.