A Beverley campaigner has raised concerns about religious constraints being placed upon blood donors at a local church saying people should not have religious beliefs imposed on them.
George McManus, who has donated 52 pints of blood in the past, has misgivings that teas and coffees will not be served during donor sessions on religious grounds at its new venue at Beverley’s Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The donor sessions have been moved from Beverley Racecourse in an effort to save money. However, sessions will only take place as long as the NHS agrees to abide by the rules of the Mormon faith which prohibit the consumption of tea on church owned premises.
Mr McManus said: “I called the NHS Blood and Transplant Service to express my deep concerns about this move.
“I have no problem with the NHS collecting blood as cost effectively as possible and I would gladly attend any church, or other venue. I respect the Book of Mormon but I have great concerns when blood donors are finding religious beliefs being imposed on them. Many blood donors share other faiths or have no faith.
“What would happen if the local mosque offered their premises on the basis that men would be separated from women and that women had to cover up? It’s dangerous to say we want your blood, which can confer the gift of life, but in order to collect it you will abide by the rules of somebody else’s faith. I don’t think this has been thought through.”
Alternative refreshments will be on offer to donators but it is the principle which Mr McManus questions.
A spokesperson from the NHS Blood and Transplant Service, said: “When looking at blood donation sessions and venues, there are several key factors that need to be looked at in detail including cost.
“Every penny we save will enable more money to be available to spend on frontline NHS patient care.
“We were approached by the church as the need for blood has touched the life of one of their congregation. The venue has been offered to us free of charge which could lead to thousands of pounds being saved every year.
“As well as the overall cost, we need to ensure the venue is safe, suitable for the donors, with enough space for the equipment and accessible for all. We also need to make sure that it is a pleasant experience for the donors who volunteer their time in order to help save lives. We believe that the new venue offers all of these things. We hope this will also satisfy a number of local donors who had requested the regular blood donation venue to be situated closer to the town centre.
“We realise that some donors may be disappointed that we will not be offering tea or coffee at this venue. However, we are able to offer hot soup and crackers as an alternative along with our usual refreshments of juice, biscuits and drinking chocolate.
“For those who would prefer a cup of tea or coffee, there are donation sessions held in the areas of Cottingham, Kingswood and Leven.”
Sessions will take place at the church on Wed nesday 22 January, Thursday 13 February, Thursday 13 March and will run from 2:15pm to 4pm and 5pm to 7:30pm.