Paediatric Haematology Team at St George’s

We spoke with the paediatric haematology team at St George’s to find out a bit more about their work with children who have sickle cell disease, and what changes the service has undertaken due to Covid-19.

What service does the team provide?

As a multidisciplinary team, we run different face-to-face clinics throughout the week and support children to regularly attend hospital to receive treatment.

As well as supporting children, young people, and their families in the clinic, our clinical nurse specialist often works closely with schools to support staff and to ensure that a care plan is in place.

We have a newly appointed Paediatric Clinical Psychologist who supports children and young people in managing the psychological aspects of growing up with a long term health condition, for example managing the pain that sickle cell disease can bring.

How has the service changed as a result of Covid-19?

Just like many other specialities, we are not currently seeing patients on a face-to-face basis, and have rapidly changed our way of working to telephone clinics.

Children, young people, and adults with sickle cell disease have been identified as being particularly vulnerable during the Covid-19 outbreak, and have been advised to ‘shield’ at home and not leave the house for three months, unless they need medical support. Therefore, a large amount of work has been done to link families to additional support in their local community and with national initiatives such as Good Sam, to help them stay safe at home.

What has most impressed you about the response of staff/colleagues?

We have adapted quickly to change our way of working and have all pulled together as a team to support each other with the changes to our service.

We are also learning how to carry out multidisciplinary team meetings using video conferencing and the benefits that this can have. We hope to be able to use online platforms to carry out patient groups in the future.

And finally, keeping with our team values – we continue to celebrate birthdays within the team and enjoy cake where possible!

What is the hardest thing about the current circumstances?

We understand that many families may be shielding at home for a number of months which means that we will be missing face-to-face contact which usually helps us build a rapport with families.

However, our team is currently planning for the future and we are looking forward to using video platforms to connect with our patients and families to provide further support and improve patient experience.

We are also working hard to support young people and their families in feeling safe when they attend hospital for their treatment – as understandably this is an anxiety provoking time for them.