One of the questions we’re most frequently asked, usually via social media in reaction to a news post, is “What does Class 1 mean?” and it’s a very good question. Every organisation has its jargon and this is part of ours but it’s actually very simple.
Every job that gets called in is classified by the duty controller after discussing the requirements with the caller, be they one of our neighbouring hospitals or a neighbouring SERV region. We only use three classes and, in ascending order, these are:
Class 3 is urgent enough not to wait until NHS Blood & Transplant open tomorrow morning or after the weekend. Typically, these will be blood stock required for early morning theatre operations. We will often hold these back until we have another call going in a similar direction and then double-up the run, to use our limited resources better.
Class 2 is time-specific; the hospital has requested delivery by a certain time as it relates to a specific patient who has an urgent but not critical need. These calls often relate to a sample, notes or data for analysis before treatment can be commenced but could also be medication required at nursing homes or a neighbouring hospitals.
Class 1 is as close as we get to an emergency run. Remember that we’re not a blue light service and have no authority to exceed the speed limit or ignore traffic signals. These runs are carried out as quickly as we can safely and legally get the product there. If that isn’t good enough (very rarely), NHS Blood & Transplant will blue-light it, but at a cost.
You’ll rarely see us doing Class 1 runs but, when we do, we’re justifiably proud because that usually means somebody received treatment that otherwise would have made their, or their family’s, day very much worse.