NHS Blood and Transplant has enabled users to log-on to its website using their social media credentials as part of a bid to encourage more people to donate blood.

The authority is using a product called PingFederate to enable donors to log-in to the site using their Facebook and Twitter details.

Once on the site, they can register, find a donation session, book an appointment and view their donation history.

They can also sign-up for appointment reminders via Tweets and Facebook messages and publicise the fact that they are giving blood on the social media platforms.

“We live in a digital age, where people want to access information seamlessly, securely and in a way that suits them,” Jon Latham, assistant director for marketing and donor contact service at the authority, said in a statement.

“This has helped to promote our message [and] has had a real impact on the number of online bookings that we receive.

Ping Identity is providing the platform behind the initiative. It holds identities and passwords securely, controls user access to information, and enables the authority to monitor and audit usage.

NHS Blood and Transplant already makes significant use of digital technology to interact with blood donors.

Some three quarters of registrations to the NHS Organ Donor Register are now made electronically, and the authority's real-time booking system is used by around 500,000 donors, via tablets and smartphones .

The authority, which was one of the signatories of the National Information Board's IT framework that was released earlier this month, also provides electronic links to hospitals for orders and test results. 

It is working on a set of pilots to see how IT can be used to improve its supply chain and hospital transfusion processes.

NHS Blood and Transplant is also running its annual Christmas campaign, to try and make sure that it gets in the 210,000 blood donations that will be needed over the next six weeks in England and North Wales.

It is particularly urging people with rarer blood types and from different ethnic backgrounds to get in touch.

Latham said: “Blood stock levels can drop dramatically over the festive period, as Christmas shopping, celebrations and extended public holidays mean blood giving slips off the nation’s to-do list.

“A blood donation is truly the gift that only you can give – and with a single donation you can save or improve up to three lives.”

NHS Blood and Transplant can be reached on www.blood.co.uk; but also has mobile apps for Windows, Android and Apple devices that can be found by searching for ‘NHSGiveBlood’ in the relevant app stores.