Staff from the Brent Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Centre at London North West Healthcare NHS Trust have supported the training of a doctor from Guyana.
The team have been sharing their knowledge, expertise and skills with Dr Sherelyn Stanton to raise awareness and improve the care and treatment of those living with genetic disorders across the globe.
Dr Stanton visited the UK as part of a three month programme to learn about the care and management of people with sickle cell, thalassaemia and other related conditions.
Sickle cell and thalassaemia are lifelong genetic conditions that affect the blood. Sickle cell disease mainly affects people of African, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Eastern Mediterranean and Asian origin. In the UK, it's particularly common in people with an African or Caribbean family background.
The partnership between the centre, based at Central Middlesex Hospital, and the Association of Guyanese Nurses and Allied Professionals (AGNAP) began in 2004. Impressed with centre’s work, AGNAP has been making efforts to emulate the successful service and apply it to Guyana.
In 2014 Dr Lola Oni OBE, Specialist Nurse Consultant and Service Director of the Brent Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Centre, visited the South American country to offer expert guidance and advice on establishing a specialist service in Guyana, as well as a national newborn screening programme, similar to the one established in the UK in 2006. During the visit it was agreed that the Trust would support the training of health professionals from Guyana.
Dr Oni said: “This unique initiative is a demonstration of the impact that our specialist team has and continues to have in promoting the health and wellbeing of people with these genetic conditions worldwide. We also support training of health professionals in and from Africa and Asia.
“The success of these global initiatives would not be possible without the commitment of the clinical team, as well as the support of London North West Healthcare’s management board and funding from various voluntary organisations.”
Speaking after her visit, Dr Stanton said: “It has been a unique and truly informative experience. Over the three months I have developed an appreciation for the comprehensive care provided to patients affected with sickle cell and thalassaemia in the UK.
“This visit has demonstrated the need to make newborn screening available for all babies in Guyana and the need to educate medical personnel, providing them with the appropriate evidence-based protocols for management of these diseases. Furthermore, it highlights the need to provide specialist outpatient care for this patient group.
“My key objective when I return to Guyana is to work with my colleagues at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, supported by the Government’s policy decision makers to achieve the identified goals in Guyana and continue our partnership with groups in the UK.
“My gratitude is extended to Dr Oni and the team at London North West Healthcare for co-ordinating the various placements and to the members of AGNAP for their continued work in developing health services in Guyana.”
Dr Stanton’s visit was funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Professional Education Programme. During her visit Dr Stanton undertook a wide range of clinical experiences at the Trust and underwent placements at other hospitals, including Great Ormond Street Hospital, Hammersmith Hospital, John Radcliffe Hospital and the Evelina Children’s Hospital.
She returned to Guyana at the end of April. Two nurses from Guyana will visit the hospital for training in the autumn.
The Brent Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Service was the first to be established in the UK in 1979. Others have been developed based on the same model and it remains a world renowned Centre of excellence. For more information, please visit www.sickle-thal.lnwh.nhs.uk