The work of a University of Derby academic has helped a UK health charity to launch a guide which could improve vital treatment for one of the UK’s most common hereditary conditions.
Gerri Mortimore, Lecturer in Post-Registration Health Care at the University, has worked with Haemochromatosis UK to help nursing staff treat people with haemochromatosis, which affects an estimated 400,000 people across the UK.
The condition is caused by the storing of too much iron in the body, which can result in liver, heart and pancreatic problems. Its most common symptoms though are chronic fatigue and a discoloration of the skin.
Treating the condition involves taking blood from a patient at regular intervals to bring iron levels down. However, differing guidance for nurses and healthcare professionals to follow has raised concerns about consistency of care for patients.
Gerri and Yvonne Francis, of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, worked with Haemochromatosis UK and obtained the endorsement of the Royal College of Nursing to produce a single set of nurse-led guidelines for venesection best practice.
Gerri, who addressed fellow academics about her work at the University of Derby’s Research and Knowledge Exchange Conference on Thursday (18 June), said: “The need for a single and consistent set of guidelines, written by nursing professionals and based on the best practice available, was clear if the condition was to be treated effectively. There is no known cure for the condition, so regular treatment to lower iron levels in the bloodstream is required.
“Treatment needs to delivered in the same way in every hospital in the country, so that nursing staff and healthcare professionals are clear about the most effective way of caring for patients. That can then help manage the condition and reduce the prospect of it causing more serious complications with their health in future. It also provides patients with the assurance that wherever they live in the UK, they will receive the same high levels of care.”
The project has earned awards from two major organisations working for the wellbeing of hospital patients, Patient Safety Learning and The Patients’ Association. The guidelines also have the support of a group of MPs who sit on the All Party Parliamentary Haemochromatosis Group.
Neil McClements, Chief Executive of Haemochromatosis UK, said: “This award-winning initiative is the culmination of over three years’ work with more than 200 nurses and other healthcare professionals to identify, document and coalesce best practice for venesection nursing procedures. It’s a testament to the skill and thoroughness of the authors that this guide has now been endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing as national best practice guidance. Our charity is delighted to have collaborated in this work, which will benefit tens of thousands of patients every year.”
To find out more about the condition, visit www.haemochromatosis.org.uk.