The need for better education among health professionals

One of the aims of the SCOOTER project is to provide high quality teaching resources materials on sickle cell and thalassaemia with the education of future health professionals in mind. The urgent need for this education of future healthy workers has never been more graphically, and tragically, illustrated than by the events in the UK over the past few months.

First came the death of three year old Obed-Edom Bans, one of twins, on October 23rd 2010. He had apparently been turned away from a medical centre in South London even though he had an emergency medical card showing he had sickle cell disease. He was reportedly given an appointment for seven days later and offered a prescription for Calpol. He died three days later.

More recently, a 21-year old student of Business Management, Sarah Mulenga, underwent a painful sickle cell crisis at her rented accommodation in Essex. Her landlady is reported to have called an ambulance three times in total. When ambulance crew arrived, it is claimed that they refused to transport Sarah to hospital because she had soiled herself. The landlady claims she herself cleaned Sarah up before calling a second ambulance. Although another ambulance crew did eventually take her to hospital she later died.

Enquiries are underway in both cases, but it seems clear that greater awareness of the need to understand and take symptoms associated with sickle cell disease seriously are desperately needed if such unnecessary deaths are not to keep occurring.

Professor Simon Dyson

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