26 June 2023

England is to get new 24-hour specialist emergency clinics for sickle cell patients.

Announced to mark World Sickle Cell Day last week, the first new clinics are to be established in London and Manchester. London already has at least one such centre at Hammersmith Hospital.

NHS England said the clinics would spare patients experiencing a sickle cell crisis having to use hospital A&E departments.

Known as ‘hyper acute units’, the centres will eventually provide care for up to 80% of people in England with sickle cell disease, NHS England indicated. Patients are also to be provided with sickle cell “alert” cards to show at emergency departments with a view to speeding up support.

The NHS says it is also seeking to educate emergency department staff about the signs of sickle cell crisis.

Steph George, a 31-year-old sickle cell patient and advocate from North London, said: “I think it will be very, very positive and I am quite excited to hear this is happening – not having to navigate A&E and being able to go straight to the specialist unit if I’m ever sick will be great.”

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “Sickle cell crises can be deeply debilitating, and patients have the right to expect that the NHS will be there for them when they need help most. By creating these new specialist units, we hope to be able to provide a much better experience, with much quicker treatment, for thousands of people.

“The new measures we are launching today are the latest, important step we are taking to improve how the NHS meets the needs of sickle cell patients, listening closely to what they have told us would make the biggest difference, and we are committed to continuing this work together.”

Professor Bola Owolabi, NHS director for health inequalities, said: “These new hyperacute units will give people with sickle cell the confidence to come forward for care during these intensely painful and life-threatening episodes and receive the care from NHS staff that we would all want and expect in our hour of need.

“On this World Sickle Day, I am determined that the NHS continues to make progress in the support it offers to people with sickle cell, so every individual with this disease feels able to seek help when they need it.”

Source: Department of Health and Social Care           


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