Interview with Professor Elizabeth Anionwu
Elizabeth interviewed by Simon Dyson
Members of the public, undergraduate or postgraduate healthcare, nursing or medical training.
YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VK0p8t-NA-Q&t=3s
Professor Elizabeth Anionwu is a very special individual and made a significant contribution to the advancement of nurse counselling in the UK, most notably through her work with patients and families with blood disorders such as sickle cell anaemia. She was the first nurse counsellor in the UK in the 1970’s and established nurse counselling as a career path and service within the National Health Service (NHS).
The idea was first conceived a the Central Middlesex Hospital where as a community nurse tutor Professor Anionwu worked alongside a consultant haematologist, and they both recognised the need to drastically improve medical care in the area of sickle cell disease.
In this resource she describes the advancement of counselling services and support centres around the world from Lagos in Nigeria, to Quantra Pitra Guadeloupe which was the first comprehensive sickle cell centre in France. Back in the UK at the Willesden General hospital the Brent Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Centre was established in 1979, and as an information screening and counselling centre for the conditions it was the first of its kind in Britain. Professor Anionwu ran the centre until 1990.
Today, the role of the nurse counsellor and growing band of specialist nurses and midwives are involved in supporting patients and their families in the genetic counselling and screening for sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia.
Professor Simon Dyson.
Update November 2017 – I fully recommend Elizabeth’s brilliant book about her childhood and journey into the nursing profession. “Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union” is available on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mixed-Blessings-Cambridge-Elizabeth-Anionwu/dp/099552680X