A SERVICE which helps the NHS is launching a donation appeal to make up for the shortfall in funding the coronavirus has caused.

YFW Blood Bikes provides an emergency motorcycle courier service, for of charge, to hospitals around the area.

The crew is responsible for transporting not only blood, but also things like pathology samples, theatre equipment and medicines.

But as the coronavirus restrictions have prevented the team from holding their usual vital fundraising events, they have been left with a shortfall of around £15,000.

A spokesperson said: "Our 81 volunteers have seen a significant increase in workload since the start of the CoronaVirus outbreak, running hundreds of samples for analysis, initially to London and currently to Bristol and Taunton, from patients suspected of having the virus. We have also been tasked to transport Covid-19 samples through the night.

"The hospitals have warned us to expect a further increase in tasking as clinics are replaced with telephone consultations as a result of measures to combat Covid-19. We have also been asked to support hospital contingency plans to replace internal NHS courier services if NHS drivers are isolated, having caught the virus.

"Our service is achieved with highly trained, volunteer bikers, working without reimbursement, using motorcycles that are fuelled and maintained through public donation. In previous years our fundraising strategy has proved to be robust. However, we have now identified a shortfall of £15,000 against our budget as a direct result of events cancellations. This represents five months of service provision. The increased demand from Covid-19 activity is likely to cost us around £5,000."

The charity is hoping the public will show support in order to keep the services running throughout the pandemic and beyond.

The spokesperson added: "In these difficult times, we are having to adapt our fundraising processes and so are looking for new ways to raise awareness of what we do to the public. As a result, we are also finding new ways to contact a wider audience, asking for donations. Any donation to help keep our bikes running and on the road is greatly appreciated."

To make a donation or find out more visit yfwbloodbikes.org.