A charity delivering vital blood supplies for the NHS in the Highlands is to receive a £10,000 cash injection.
The money from Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL), which is decommissioning the nuclear site, will enable Highland and Islands Blood Bikes (HAIBB) to establish a permanent presence in Caithness.
It will also speed up turnaround times for samples such as Covid-19 tests between hospitals and healthcare facilities in the north Highlands and the medical laboratories at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness – a distance of more than 100 miles.
The charity has been running the Inverness to Caithness route from Inverness, but wanted a motorcycle based in Caithness, with fully trained riders, to serve the local community.
HAIBB president Ross Sharp said: “It’s just fantastic that this will now become a reality.
“Being able to fund this motorcycle will make a huge difference.
“We will now be able to service the whole of the Caithness area much more efficiently.
“We will now also be able to service the wider needs of the Caithness area and offer courier services, completely free of cost, to GP surgeries, care homes and other healthcare premises, as well as Caithness General Hospital.
“At this time of crisis we see it as important that samples, vital supplies, medicines and other products are able to circulate freely and flexibly between healthcare facilities.
“This will enable us to play our part in doing so.”
HAIBB is part of a UK-wide network of blood bikes supporting the NHS, operated on a voluntary basis.
Normally, it provides an out-of-hours service at weekends and evenings when NHS transport may not be available.
During the coronavirus crisis, it has been delivering up to 14 hours a day.
The group now has five motorcycles and is looking for funding for a vehicle to be based in each of the areas serviced by the major hospitals in Highland.
Mark Rouse, managing director of DSRL, said: “This agreement with the blood bikes charity will strengthen the long supply lines that support our hospitals and healthcare facilities at a moment of greatest need and I’m delighted we are able to support this.”