About our Sickle cell and thalassaemia service (red cell service)

The department is recognised for its expertise in managing sickle cell disease and thalassaemia.

The team offers a full specialist service to patients from a wide geographical area and supports NHS providers in Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and East of England. It is supported by a senior transfusion practitioner and a red cell clinical nurse specialist (CNS), as well as a Clinical Psychologist. Automated red cell exchange is provided on site.

Our patients have access to:

  • Haematology Day Unit for red cell patients receiving transfusions and other booked day case procedures, including automated exchange transfusions
  • Sickle Cell Day Unit (at George Marsh Centre, St Ann’s Hospital) offers community services for sickle cell and thalassaemia. Genetic counselling and home visits are also available

Our inpatients are managed by a dedicated inpatient Haematology team. The team consists of a consultant haematologist, haematology registrar and one to two medical trainees. We have twice-weekly consultant-led ward rounds supported by our red cell CNS.

Conditions we treat

  • Sickle Cell
  • Thalassaemia
  • Genetic Counselling for (pregnant) women and fathers who are found to be carriers
  • Antenatal Newborn Screening
  • Pre conceptual counselling
  • Newborn home visits
  • Drop-in service for advice
  • Education
  • Public awareness of sickle cell and thalassaemia
  • Home visits

How to prepare for your visit

We may carry out a telephone consultation instead of a face to face consultation for routine outpatient appointments. This will mean that you would not have to attend the hospital to speak to the doctor. This will be indicated clearly on your appointment letter.

The Annual Review appointment is approximately 30 minutes. Your doctor will review all major systems and possible complications related to your diagnosis during this visit and discuss if further investigations and/or referrals are recommended. Follow-up appointments are scheduled for 15 minutes.

The Red Cell Clinic is run by the Consultant Haematologists, the Lead Nurse Specialist and a Specialist Registrar on the training rotation for Red Cell Disorders. In the nearby future, we will also have a clinical psychologist attending the clinic.

The Red Cell Clinic is by appointment only. You will receive a letter and/or text message with details of your appointment, unless the booking was made less than 72 hours before the actual appointment.

What we aim for:

We would like to offer an outstanding and personalised service to all our patients. Having a red cell disorder often involves multiple disciplines and we are aware that the number of appointments in hospital can be rather large. For a smooth experience, we would like to make sure the waiting time in our clinic is as minimal as possible.

What we would like to ask from you:

Typically, we have about 40-45 patients scheduled for the Red Cell Clinic. In order to reduce the waiting time, we would like to kindly ask you to adhere to your appointment time:

We recommend that you arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time. The health care assistant will take your observations before you will be seen by the team.

Please prepare yourself for the consultation. Consider writing down in advance what you would like to discuss. It is also useful if you bring a record of your medication with you.

Attending the Haematology Day Unit

Most of our patients attend the Haematology Day Unit regularly, often on a monthly basis or even more. Taking blood and/or placing a cannula can be challenging in patients with a red cell disorder. We would like to make sure that all our patients are looked after by our own highly skilled nurses and that our nurses can take their time if required to perform a difficult procedure.

At the same time, we would like to reduce the waiting time for our patients as much as possible and aim to treat you at the scheduled appointment time because we appreciate that you spend a lot of time in our unit. We are pleased to announce that we now use the Airglove technique for patients with difficult veins.

What we would like to ask from you:

In order to deliver the care as smoothly as possible, we would like to kindly ask that you:

  • Arrive in time for your appointment; we recommend 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled time.
  • Make sure you are warm and well hydrated
  • Notify the team at least 24 hours in advance if you need to cancel or move your appointment.

We would like to ask your specific cooperation with regards to (exchange) blood transfusions.

Exchange red cell transfusions often involve using 6 to 10 units of blood.  People with a red cell disorder often have specific blood group requirements. It is not uncommon that for a particular patient, several blood donors have to be identified and be asked to donate in order to guarantee that the right blood is available on the day of transfusion.  Blood is not an unlimited resource and has a limited shelf life.

If you cancel your blood transfusion less than 24 hours beforehand, or if you do not attend a scheduled appointment without giving notice, these valuable products will already have been delivered and as such wasted. Not only is this very expensive, but also very ungrateful towards the blood donors who have dedicated themselves to help other people with rare blood disorders.

Please do always attend your blood transfusion appointments and do not cancel less than 24 hours beforehand.

Refer a patient

All GP referrals need to be requested via NHS e-Referral Service (eRS)

Advice and Guidance requests can be sent via NHS e-Referral Service (eRS) or Consultant Connect.

Meet our team

  • Dr Marilyn Roberts-Harewood – consultant haematologist
  • Dr Theodoros Chatzis - consultant haematologist
  • Sarah Lincoln - associate director of nursing
  • Laurence Dookie - matron
  • Sekayi Tangayi – nurse consultant
  • Karen Madgwick – blood transfusion practitioner
  • Ruth Marks – sickle cell and thalassaemia psychologist
  • Bassey Williams – service improvement manager
  • Francis Mate-Kole - nurse
  • Bandula Jayaweera - nurse
  • Doris Ademako-Afriyie - nurse
  • Philomena Krishnan - nurse
  • Todorova Stoyanka - nurse
  • Jacinta Mulwana - nurse
  • Kimberly Ellis – service manager
  • Danielle Blake – patient pathway coordinator
  • Cynthia Matthew – patient pathway coordinator
  • Debbie Elliot – data manager
  • Susane Ali - administrator
  • Anita St Liaus - administrative coordinator

Opening times for our service

Haematology Day Unit

Our opening times are:

  • Monday 10:30 to 18:30
  • Wednesday 9:00 to 21:00
  • Thursday 9:00 to 21:00
  • Friday 9:00 to 21:00
  • Saturday 9:00 to 21:00  

Treatment in the Haematology Day Unit is by appointment only. The services are led by haematology nurses.

George Marsh Centre

Monday – Sunday 09:00 – 17:00

  • Genetic Counselling clinics are held on a Tuesday between 09:00 – 15:00 at North Mid

Where to find us

Our Haematology Day Unit is located on Mary Seacole Ward in the Pymmes Building.

The Haematology Day Unit (HDU) is located in Pymmes -1 and provides treatment for patients with red cell disorders:

  • Blood transfusion
  • Automated exchange transfusion
  • Insertion of intravascular catheters
  • Blood tests
  • Iron chelation
  • Venesection

George Marsh Centre – St Ann’s Hospital

The George Marsh Centre is located at St Ann's Hospital:

St Ann's Hospital,
St Ann's Road,
N15 3TH

The Centre provides the following:

  • Genetic Counselling for pregnant women and fathers
  • Antenatal Newborn screening
  • Pre-conceptual counselling
  • Newborn home visits
  • Drop in service for advice
  • Education
  • Home visits
  • Community activities, together with the local patient support groups (in development following recovery from Covid-19)