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NHS to launch specialist sickle cell care units

NHS to launch specialist sickle cell care units
By Jess Hacker
19 June 2023

New 24/7 specialist clinics for people with sickle cell disease will launch later this year, allowing patients to bypass A&E, NHS England has announced.

The acute unites will launch initially in London and Manchester, before expanding to other areas in the country with the highest number of sickle patients.

Around four-in-five people with sickle cell disease will receive specialist support at the clinics, meaning they can avoid A&E waits and can see clinicians who understand their condition and offer pain relief much quicker.

Around 15,000 people in England have sickle cell disease.

It comes after NHS England launched training for healthcare professionals on sickle cell symptoms to address inequalities in accessing the right care.

And last month, NHS England and NHS Blood and Transplant announced a new partnership to provide patients with sickle cell and related conditions with genetic tests to ensure they receive better-matched blood transfusions and decreasing the risk of side-effects.

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.’

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, 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.’

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