Haemochromatosis UK has partnered with Addenbrooke’s Hospital and St George’s Medical Centre in Cambridgeshire to offer lifesaving venesection treatment in the local community.

The 5-month pilot will see people with haemochromatosis in the rural area of Littleport invited to have their essential venesection treatment at St George’s Medical Centre, rather than Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Travelling to the hospital can be as much as a 50-mile round trip for some patients and as transport links are poor this leads to missed appointments, anxiety and the risk of developing serious health problems from iron overload.

By offering this service, it’s believed that more people will be able to receive the treatment they need to manage their genetic haemochromatosis. Those taking part in the pilot also receive free membership to Haemochromatosis UK along with information and advice about the condition.

Haemochromatosis UK - the only charity in the UK that exists to support and guide those with the genetic disorder - trained the team at St George’s Medical Centre in venesection best practice. This training was led by Education Programme Manager Gerri Mortimore, recently named as Nurse of the Year by the British Journal of Nursing for Haemochromatosis UK’s work in advancing patient safety.

Chief Executive of Haemochromatosis UK, Neil McClements said:

“It can be difficult and expensive to attend hospital appointments for venesection treatments, especially for those travelling by public transport or in rural areas. This means missed treatments and health risks from iron overload.

“We’re currently in the early stages of the pilot, but initial feedback has been extremely positive. We hope to take the learnings from this project to other parts of the country, as we replicate this community-based approach in other geographically remote areas. This will help many others with genetic haemochromatosis to access the treatment that they need, easily and conveniently.”

“The pilot is due to continue until September, after which the project will be adopted by the local NHS clinical commissioning group under the auspices of Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge.”

Dr Bill Griffiths PhD FRCP, Consultant Hepatologist at Addenbrookes Hospital, welcomed the initiative: “I’m delighted that this project has started, and believe that it will be a great example for other parts of the community to follow. Geographically it’s much easier for patients in the region as they don’t have to worry about travel and parking, meaning they’re less likely to miss their appointment and more likely to receive their treatment.”

Dr Mukesh Bolina, GP Partner at St George’s Medical Centre added: “The feedback from patients involved in the pilot so far has been very positive. We believe in meeting the needs of our community by offering the services that they need, clinical excellence and outstanding treatment – the ability to offer venesection in the local area reduces a lot of anxiety about travel and a hospital visit.”

One of the first local residents in the Wisbech/Ely area to benefit from this new, community service is Joan, who said : "It's a very nice environment and very convenient. The staff have been very welcoming and supportive". Another, Peter, added : "It was very easy to arrange a venesection - the nurses were very professional and made me feel at ease."

The pilot is due to continue until September, after which time it will be reviewed for further funding with a view to being rolled out in other parts of the UK.