Haematology and Blood Transfusion

Patients with all haematological malignancies, bleeding and thrombotic disorders and red cell disorders (including thalassaemia and sickle cell anaemia) are managed at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, which is a Haemophilia Centre and an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant Centre.

This specialty includes a team of five Consultants, with four based at University Hospital, Coventry and one at St Cross Hospital, Rugby. Colleagues from local trusts contribute to inpatient care, and one also provides an additional outpatient session. All Consultants see patients with general Haematology problems and haematological malignancies. In addition, each has a sub-specialist interest.

Covid-19 information for haematology patients

As a haematology patient you may have received one or more letters from sources such as the Government and us advising that you are at an increased risk of severe illness from the Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19).

Many of our haematology patients are at least moderately more vulnerable to this virus. This may mean that you are at risk of having more severe symptoms from it than the general population.

The reason for this may relate to your underlying condition, its severity, previous treatment you may have had, how recently it was given and other health conditions.

In March 2020 we attempted to identify our haematology patients who fall into an extremely vulnerable category. These patients were advised to follow Government guidelines on very strict self-isolation called ‘Shielding’ which includes, amongst other things: not leaving your house, minimise time with other household members, ideally sleeping in another bed and using separate facilities.

Shielding advice was lifted in July 2020, but due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government have recommended that extremely vulnerable patients should practice a milder form of shielding starting from the 5th November. The plan is for this to continue for 4 weeks, but this could be extended.

The present guidance for the extremely vulnerable is similar to the current national restrictions. Everyone is advised to stay in their homes, and you should not leave or be outside of your home except for specific reasons.  For the extremely vulnerable it is recommended that they stay at home as much as possible, and are advised to work from home. If this is not possible the government recommend you do not attend work.

We understand this will be a problem for many of our patients from a financial perspective, and it may be worth seeking to be retained on the furlough scheme is planned to run until March 2021. Otherwise you may be eligible for statutory sick pay, employment support allowance or universal credit.

The full guidance can be found here.

For those who we would deem 'moderate risk’, we recommend stringently following social distancing guidelines which can be found here

CLINICS

We have switched over to telephone clinics for many of our patients for the time being. We hope you have received a letter or phone call telling you whether your appointment is face to face or by telephone. Please contact the department if you are unsure.

The time of the telephone consultation may not be at your specified clinic appointment time. If you have a morning appointment please be prepared to expect a phone call from 9am until 12:30pm, and if you have an afternoon appointment please be prepared to expect a phone call from 1:30pm until 5pm. Telephone calls from our department will appear as an ‘Unknown Number’. Please disable any call blocking of Unknown Numbers you might have in place, or we may find it difficult to contact you.

If you have not received a telephone consultation on the day of your clinic appointment please wait for 24 hours and then contact your consultant's secretary.

TREATMENTS

We are regularly reviewing the risks and benefits of treatment. This may result in some treatments being postponed, stopped or changed to alternatives.

We will discuss any treatments and changes to treatment with you.

PRESCRIPTIONS

To help in the collection of your prescriptions we would recommend you ask someone to collect your prescription from the hospital pharmacy if possible.

Our pharmacy services are currently attempting to increase their provision to deliver prescriptions to patients who have been asked to 'shield' and are not able to request a friend to collect the prescription on their behalf. We may be able to deliver your prescription to a local pharmacy – please ask us for more details.

We are also trying to provide more medications to reduce the frequency of visits.

BLOOD TESTS

Blood tests are often an essential part of haematology treatment, but there is also a small risk of exposure to COVID-19 that comes with attending in person. Changes have been made to our working practises in order to make the phlebotomy sites as safe as possible. We ask that when attending for a blood test you maintain social distance, wear a mask, and avoid touching your face. There will be stations where you can wash your hands or use alcohol gel, and we recommend washing your hands when you return home.

While we continually review the necessity of blood tests, we may issue more cycles of treatment than usual with fewer blood tests.  If you have been advised that a blood test is a necessary part of your treatment but are concerned about having a blood test, please contact us.

Blood tests may be possible in the community at a local pharmacy or GP surgery or booked at one of the hospital sites in Coventry and Rugby .

A booked appointment will mean that you do not have to wait when you arrive for your blood test. If you are coming for a face to face appointment we can do your blood test in clinic when we see you. If none of these are possible please contact your consultant’s secretary and we will endeavour to find an alternative solution.

These are unprecedented times for everyone which we know will cause much anxiety and concern but we will work with you to support everyone through this.

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