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Centenary Stories: The history of the George Marsh Centre

Many years ago, the Haringey Sickle Cell support group was located in a small office in Wood Green.

One day, haematology consultant at North Mid, Dr George Marsh saw the support group stranded outside in the rain as they had been locked out of the building. Dr Marsh felt a rush of sympathy and acknowledged things needed to change. He raised the necessary funds and began to plan a health and community centre for the many patients with sickle cell and thalassaemia under his care. Sadly, Dr Marsh passed away before the centre was built and opened in 1989. It is called the George Marsh Centre in his memory.

The primary aim was to provide the local population who lived with sickle cell disorder and thalassaemia a centre fit for purpose. Within Enfield and other surrounding boroughs, there were a high number of patients with haemoglobin disorder and a limited amount of information available. As a result of this, Dr Marsh developed an interest in this area of care and group of patients and therefore became a leading figure within this field.

The centre is still operational today and continues to serve the community as The George Marsh Centre, at St Ann’s Hospital, in Haringey. Our NHS staff continue to serve the community with Blood Screening, Education and Advice, Seminars & Workshops as well as providing support and counselling for patients and their relatives. The centre also provides parent forums,  organises children’s parties and continues to house the still very popular patient run voluntary Sickle Cell Support Group, now known as the Sickle Cell Care, Advocacy, Unity, Support with Empathy Group, or 'SC Cause'.

Over the past 5-10 years, there has been a significant development in red cell disorder research. Various new drugs are undergoing investigation and are currently in phase three of trials. One of the biggest developments to date is the automated red cell exchange method which aims to take away abnormal sickle cells from patients and replaces it with healthy blood from donors. The introduction of this method has been an enormous boost in quality, care and treatment those who live with the condition.

London has the highest number of people living with sickle cell disorder. With over 500 patients being cared for at North Mid, the hospital is a red cell specialist centre and looks after one of the largest cohorts of thalassemia patients.

With patients needing specialist care, they often spend a lot of time in hospital, particularly when they undergo transfusions. Therefore, North Mid regularly engages with its’ service users which includes inpatients and outpatients as well as various community groups to ensure their needs are taken on board.

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