OXFORD blood donors are being urged to keep their appointments in the run up to Christmas.

Blood banks often see a drop in donations over the festive period as people become busy with Christmas shopping, get struck down with winter colds or are put off travelling due to bad weather.

However, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said it will need blood throughout December to build up stocks for the Christmas break.

Last December, NHSBT issued 1,007 units of blood to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford - the sixth highest amount in England.

Consultant neurointensivist at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Simon Raby, said: "We're supporting NHS Blood and Transplant's appeal because we know how blood saves lives.

"There aren't many gifts which cost nothing and are received so gladly.

"Your body will replenish the blood you donate now by Christmas, and the people who receive it will already be feeling the benefit.

"For our patients, your donation may be the difference between life and death - so please keep your appointment when you have one."

To make an appointment call 01865 387 939 or 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.blood.co.uk

Assistant Director of Blood Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, Jon Latham, said: "We're really grateful for Oxford University Hospitals' support because this is a critical time of the year.

"If you can't keep your appointment over the festive season, give us 72 hours' notice and rebook.

"If you can’t find an appointment, please check 24 hours prior to your preferred date as we always have last minute cancellations."

NHSBT needs blood all year round and is also asking people to make an appointment to donate in the New Year.