'Successful’ community health service pilot extended for three years

Patient Colin Williams (L) with nurse Wendy (R) who attended the pilot Haemochromatosis venesection service

Patient Colin Williams (L) with nurse Wendy (R) who attended the pilot Haemochromatosis venesection service at St George's Medical Centre in Littleport. - Credit: Haemochromatosis UK

A community health service pilot project, which has been described by a patient as a “godsend”, will be extended for a further three years. 

Earlier this year, national patient charity Haemochromatosis UK partnered with Addenbrooke’s Hospital and St George’s Medical Centre in Littleport to offer lifesaving venesection treatment in the local community. 

A five-month pilot project was run at the centre to provide the treatment locally to genetic haemochromatosis patients. 

The pilot has been so successful that it has been extended for a further three years. 

Chief executive of Haemochromatosis UK, Neil McClements, said: “We’re delighted to have partnered with Addenbrooke’s Hospital and St George’s Medical Centre in Littleport to deliver this innovative pilot project. 

“It’s been a tremendous success - with one patient describing it a “godsend”.

Patient Colin Williams (L) with nurse Wendy (R) who attended the pilot Haemochromatosis service

Patient Colin Williams (L) with nurse Wendy (R) who attended the pilot Haemochromatosis service at St George's Medical Centre in Littleport. - Credit: Haemochromatosis UK

Genetic haemochromatosis affects 1 in 150 people in England. It’s also known as iron overload, a life-long condition where people cannot regulate their iron levels.  

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Excess iron is extremely toxic and can lead to diabetes, cancer, liver disease and heart issues. 

Although genetic haemochromatosis cannot be cured, it’s readily treated through regular blood donation, known as venesection. 

By moving the service out of Addenbrookes Hospital and into the community, Cambridge Universities Hospital Trust say they’ve noted a significant reduction in missed appointments. 

Almost 60 patients benefitted from the initial programme, which was rated 9.9 out of 10 by those taking part. 

Patient Colin Williams (L) with nurse Wendy (R) who attended the pilot Haemochromatosis venesection service

Patient Colin Williams (L) with nurse Wendy (R) who attended the pilot Haemochromatosis venesection service at St George's Medical Centre in Littleport. - Credit: Haemochromatosis UK

Dr Bill Griffiths, Consultant Hepatologist at Addenbrookes Hospital, said: “As travelling to Addenbrooke’s became evidently more challenging, this looked an ideal opportunity. 

“The patients have nothing but praise for the Littleport venesection service and I am hopeful it will set a precedent for other areas in the country to adopt a similar model.” 

Dr Mukesh Bolina, GP Partner at St George’s Medical Centre added: “We’re so thrilled to have the support of both Haemochromatosis UK and PULSE (a medical charity in Littleport).

"Through their donations we have accomplished what we set out to achieve.” 

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