THEY are unsung heroes of the NHS – a band of bikers who give up their weekends to courier medical supplies across the Capital.
At very little notice, Blood Bikes Scotland can be called upon to transport anything from blood tests and medical equipment to human tissue and emergency paperwork.
But despite aiming to save the NHS around £20,000 in their first year – the equivalent of a full-time nurse’s salary – the bikers are all volunteers.
Co-founder Brian Fraser, a builder from South Queensferry, said the team had made more than 500 runs for the NHS in Edinburgh since signing a contract at the end of last year.
The team is now hoping to recruit more bikers to help expand their work.
The 67-year-old said the Blood Bikes Scotland team were hoping to emulate the work done by their English equivalents whose groups have been around for longer.
He said: “It took an awful long time to get off the ground. When we mention it to people and say we aren’t going to charge you they say, ‘what’s the catch?’
“There is no catch. We decided as a group of motorcyclists that we are going to give something back.”
Brian, who is a self-employed builder, said the team’s 500 plus runs had so far saved the NHS around £8500 – cash which would otherwise have been spent on taxis or couriers. Now the focus is on getting more people involved, whether it be as riders or phone handlers or on the fundraising side.
Brian added: “To get where we are now has taken an awful lot of work and an awful lot of hours but I like a challenge.
“The system with Blood Bikes has been going a long time in England but we didn’t know about it. We are trying to do what the English did when they first started out. Wales last year saved their NHS over £360,000 just doing what we do – they run day and night but we are young. We intend to get that big.
“Controllers and bikers are the main thing we need. Anybody who is retired or has a fair amount of time.”
As well as the Edinburgh team, which operates on Saturdays and Sundays, Blood Bikes Scotland also runs a bike in the Borders and is hoping to expand into Fife in due course.
Chairman John Baxter said it was his passion for biking and a desire to give something back that saw him get involved.
Despite recent success – Blood Bikes Scotland was recently a finalist in the NHS Lothian Celebrating Success Awards 2017 – the 53-year-old said it was crucial to continue raising awareness.
When it comes to what the team is able to move, John explained it can include everything from blood tests and specimen samples to equipment and medical records. He said: “It’s basically anything that will go in panniers or in a specially-adapted rack. Anything that’ll go on the back of the bikes, short of patients.
“If we weren’t there it would just default back to taxis. We have recorded over 500 jobs in Lothian. In 12 months they are projecting a redistribution of £20,000 – it’s effectively the salary for somebody else.”
To make a donation or get involved, visit bloodbikesscotland.co.uk.