Blood diseases blog 

Dr Rakesh Popat01 December 2016 

UCLH becomes a Bloodwise TAP Centre (Trials Acceleration Programme) Centre

By Dr Rakesh Popat, Consultant Haematologist

I’m delighted to announce that UCLH has been established as a Bloodwise TAP Centre (Trials Acceleration Programme Centre). TAP is an initiative that has been set up to deliver promising treatments to more patients, more quickly.

The accreditation means that UCLH will have access to a number of early phase trials for blood cancers, which means better access to novel treatments for our patients.

UCLH was 1 of 13 sites in the UK to be awarded funded membership of this network. We are excited because this means an additional £155,610 of funding over 3 years which will go a long way in supporting our staff to deliver these studies.

Helen DeMarco17 October 2016

New Haematology Psychology and Counselling Service (HPCS)

By Helen DeMarco, Senior Clinical Psychologist

Having a serious physical illness can be a stressful experience that is difficult to cope with for patients and their families. Some people find it helpful to talk with a trained professional about how they are feeling, the support they need and how to better cope in living with their illness.

The HPCS is a newly established psychology and counselling service available to all UCLH haematology patients and their families to help them better manage the impact illness can have on their lives.

The team is made up of specialist psychologists and counsellors experienced in working with people with serious physical health problems who use a variety of different talking treatments to explore and better understand people’s thoughts and feelings about being ill and about receiving medical treatment, so that they feel better able to cope with the demands they face.

The team works with individuals, couples, families and groups and can meet with people either on inpatient wards, in outpatient clinics or during treatment in daycare.

People who would like to be seen within the service can be referred by their medical team, ward staff, through the Macmillan Support and Information Service or by contacting the HPCS team themselves.

Direct line: 02034478872


03 October 2016

Haematology occupational therapist featured in employee story

In the 'Jobs' section of the UCLH website you will find employee stories where you can read about what it is like to work at UCLH in different roles. The latest employee story features Antony Perryman - an occupational therapist within the haematology team.

The story describes how Antony, after qualifying as an occupational therapist in 2009, knew that he wanted to apply his training within the area of specialist cancer care. It became clear to him that working at UCLH would be the best way of fulfilling his aspirations.

The accompanying photo, which looks out across London from the haematology ward at University College Hospital, has been used on the banner of the main UCLH website as well as the official UCLH Facebook Page.

You can read Antony's story here.

Dr Kirit Ardeshna31 August 2016

An update from the Divisional Clinical Director for Cancer this Blood Cancer Awareness Month

By Dr Kirit Ardeshna, Consultant Haematologist and Divisional Clinical Director for Cancer at UCLH

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month which aims to raise awareness of the improvements being made in treating blood cancer. UCLH is at the forefront of this progress as the largest clinical haematology department in the UK.

Nine months ago, we became the designated specialist centre for blood diseases for our local region. The benefits of this are now being realised – you can read more about one patient’s experience here.

There are other significant developments within cancer services at UCLH – last year we were designated a partner in the Cancer Vanguard. Vanguards are part of the New Care Models programme to re-design the NHS. Each vanguard site will take a lead on the development of new care models which will act as the blueprints for the rest of the NHS. Our models of care, like the specialist ‘hub’ model described earlier could change how cancer services are provided for thousands of people across the UK.

Most of our team are actively involved in research – we work in partnership with the UCL Cancer Institute towards discovering the treatments of tomorrow while delivering the treatments of today. In a new short film, Professor Emma Morris, Professor of Clinical Cell and Gene Therapy, focuses on using gene therapy to treat blood cancers. This is part of a new series of films which highlight some of the state-of-the-art work UCLH and its Biomedical Research Centre are doing. Watch the film here.

The future is exciting as we look forward to 2019 when our blood diseases services will transfer to a brand new facility in central London. The new facility will expand the service to over 80 inpatient haematology beds with a dedicated intensive care unit, putting us amongst the most state of –the-art blood disease treatment facilities of its kind in the world. The new facility will also be one of only two centres in the UK to provide proton beam therapy, used to treat rare cancers.

We will be joining some of the UK's biggest blood cancer charities this September, including Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and Anthony Nolan, to raise awareness of how to improve treatments for blood cancer and increase the number of lives saved. There are many opportunities to fund raise or increase awareness using the #BloodCancerAwarenessMonth handle.

We are marking Blood Cancer Awareness Month with a web chat on chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) with consultant haematologist Dr Andres Virchis on 27 September 2016. The conversation will focus on living with CML and managing the condition from diagnosis to treatment. Questions related to all aspects of CML and related conditions are welcome.

Kirsty8 August 2016

Our game changing new blood disorder centre

By Dr Kirsty Thomson, Consultant Haematologist

It was really great to visit the construction site recently to see where our new centre for blood disorders is being built. 

At the moment extremely large machinery is digging around the perimeter getting ready for the basement part of the building to be developed.  The complexity of constructing the facility was fascinating, with the Bouygues UK team explaining that they build a virtual model of the facility to test and check issues prior to building in real life.

Seeing the virtual models of the facility helped to strike home just how game changing the new facility will be when it opens in 2019.

The proton beam therapy centre, which will be in the basement of the building, is obviously significant. It will be one of only two high energy NHS PBT centres in the UK and we will treat around 750 children and adults with hard to treat cancers every year.

The blood disorders centre, which will be in two floors above ground, will also have a significant impact for patients.

The new centre will be the largest in Europe and will mean we can treat more patients with blood disorders, driving forward improvements and innovations in treatments.

The building itself will be state-of-the-art. With the highest possible specification, each room on the ward will have space for a family member or friend to stay with the patient, something which we hope will make a real difference to patients.

We’re also really excited by the location, next door to the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre and across the road from the UCL Cancer Institute. This provides an amazing community of clinicians and academics, collaborating to ensure the latest research and innovations are translated into patient care as quickly as possible. 

This recent film about using gene therapy to treat blood cancer is one exciting development at UCLH:

14 July 2016

New video: Using gene therapy to treat blood cancers

Professor Emma Morris, Professor of Clinical Cell and Gene Therapy, focuses on using gene therapy to treat blood cancers in a new short film. This is part of a new series of films which highlight some of the state-of-the-art work UCLH and its Biomedical Research Centre are doing. Watch the film here.

Rakesh1 February 2016

Evaluating the new Macmillan Cancer Support Worker role at UCLH

By Claire Nicholas, Lead Clinical Nurse Specialist

In 2012 we were fortunate to receive funding from Macmillan Cancer Support for four Macmillan Cancer Support Worker (MCSW) posts. These new staff roles were brought into the brain, haematology, lung and upper GI multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs), working alongside and managed by clinical nurse specialists (CNS). After a year we evaluated the effectiveness of the roles via patient interviews, case studies, activity data, and feedback from the MDT as a whole. The analysis showed a clear benefit to patients who described the various benefits they had received. Benefits included better accessibility to the MCSW, better coordination and communication throughout patient journeys, and greater support and continuity of care.

We were pleased to win second prize at the United Kingdom Oncology Nursing Society (UKONS) Annual Conference on 13-14th November 2015. Our presentation, titled “Maximising Cancer CNS Capacity: The Evaluation of the Macmillan Cancer Support Worker” was drawn from a two year pilot at University College Hospital evaluating the effectiveness of the MCSW. The pilot aimed to provide better one-to-one support to the growing number of patients living with and beyond cancer and to provide a resource to the CNS in meeting the needs of their patients.

In their evaluation of the pilot the clinical nurse specialists described having more time to spend with patients and more time to develop new patient support initiatives such as holistic needs assessment and information prescriptions. It was clear that the MCSW had significantly enhanced the service by providing support in the run up to and immediately following hospital discharge, promoting access to hospital support services and sourcing services closer to the patient’s home.

A survey of the wider MDT showed the benefits of the role were well understood and that MDT members overwhelmingly supported its continuation. Interestingly, 74% of respondents felt that the role had improved their own workloads, showing the benefits reached beyond support of patients and CNS. As a result of the evaluation, the four posts received funding to continue and to date UCLH has employed MCSWs in nine cancer MDTs, with more planned.

Rakesh15 January 2016

Web chat on Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia with Dr Shirley D’Sa

Consultant Haemaologist Dr Shirley D’Sa recently held a web chat which opened the floor to questions on the subject of Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia (also known as lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma).

Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia is a rare form of bone marrow cancer, which is associated in most cases with the presence of an excessive amount of protein in the blood.

Our expert, consultant haematologist Dr Shirley D’Sa, specialises in treating patients with Waldenström’s macroglobulinaemia and is on the advisory board for WMUK.

The web chat proved to be one of our most popular yet, with over 160 people tuning in. The web chat had been the topic of much discussion amongst WMUK members and in the world of social media.

Due to the very high volume of questions we received, not all of them were answered. However, Dr D’Sa has agreed to come back and hold another web chat to answer remaining questions! Keep an eye out on the UCLH website and our social media streams for details of the next web chat with Dr D’Sa.

The web chat transcript from 14th January 2016 can be replayed here:

Rakesh25 November 2015 

Welcome to our blood diseases blog by Dr Rakesh Popat

There’s lots of great research at UCLH, and for the Clinical Haematology team this forms part of our everyday work. We believe in improving the outcomes for our patients by performing ground breaking laboratory and clinical research. In partnership with University College London (UCL), we can tap into some of the best scientists in the country. This blog will highlight some of the work we do.

Recently, UCL was awarded £4.2 million from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to fund a Blood and Transplant Research Unit for Stem Cell Transplantation and Immunotherapy. This will directly benefit patients through stem cell transplantation and other treatments that utilise the immune system. Professor Karl Peggs, consultant haematologist at UCLH and scientific director of the new unit, said: “We are at an exciting time in the development of innovative and effective gene and cell therapies, and the work of this unit will allow us to further develop and refine these therapies, and also to focus on developing the infrastructure to allow broader availability across the country.

“This work has the potential to impact on thousands of patients with either inherited genetic disorders or cancers and to rapidly transition new technologies and scientific knowledge into NHS Transplant services.” Developing immune therapies to target blood cancers is one of our research priorities and this award will help us bring this new treatment approach to our patients.

Dr Rakesh Popat appeared in the critically acclaimed documentary 'Curing Cancer' shown on Channel 4 in October 2014. Click here to find out more and watch the documentary.