At Norfolk Blood Bikes, one of our main duties is to collect and deliver urgently required breast milk to milk banks and hospitals across Norfolk, completely free of charge. The new milk bank hub, established in Hellesdon Hospital, will provide a storage location for donor milk prior to treatment as well as for treated milk ready to be issued to hospitals.
Before the first East Anglian milk bank hub was set up, we rotated between using three milk banks: The Rosie Hospital next to Addenbrookes in Cambridge, The Queen Charlotte Hospital in Chelsea and the Hearts Milk Bank in Welwyn Garden City. As we had to travel greater distances to get to these milk banks it meant that it would take longer to deliver the urgently required breast milk to hospitals.
With the creation of the new milk bank hub in Norwich, our duty will be to act on request from hospitals, collecting milk from nominated donors in Norfolk and delivering to the milk bank or receiving hospital. The maximum time frame for delivery will now be in the region of 20 minutes to an hour, as opposed to the four-and-a-half-hour trip average it was previously.
The milk bank is the first of its kind, allowing sick and premature babies in neo-natal intensive care units to receive donated breast milk. Milk will also be supplied to mothers who fall outside of the NHS criteria, such as mothers who cannot breastfeed due to having a mastectomy or those who are having chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
With our medical store already located at Hellesdon Hospital, it made sense to rearrange one of the rooms to make way for the new regional milk bank hub. The hub contains two specialised breast milk storage freezers, purchased from the £8,776 pledged to the Human Milk Foundation by Norfolk Provincial Freemasons, as well as temperature and logging equipment that we raised money for in a raffle at one of our masonic meetings. Thanks to the Crown Decorating Centre in Barker Street, Norwich, we also obtained heavily discounted cleaning and decorating materials for the hub.