Guest blog post from Katie Begg, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Anthony Nolan.
Anthony Nolan will be celebrating our 40th anniversary next year. That’s 40 years of working to establish and recruit donors to our pioneering bone marrow register. We now have over 480,000 donors on the register, and we provided donors for over 1000 transplants last year for patients with blood cancer and other blood disorders. For those patients, bone marrow transplant was their only chance of life.
We’re now moving in a new and exciting direction. As well as continuing our core activity of running the register and providing donors, we’re now also focused on those patients whose lives we affect.
In October last year we launched our organisational strategy which establishes our ambition to improve the quality of life of patients who have had a bone marrow transplant.
To begin to understand how we can meet this objective we asked ourselves a question: what can Anthony Nolan do within the health system to benefit transplant patients?
We’ve come up with some good answers. For example, we have created a Patient Experience Team, which will ensure we are providing specialist information and support to patients and families throughout the transplant journey.
And we’ve also decided to start campaigning for the necessary changes in health policy that will see the experience of blood cancer patients improved.
Recently I heard a clinician say a transplant patient is a patient for life. Given the complexity of transplant and its effects, this is undoubtedly true. Patients that have had bone marrow transplant can encounter severe complications throughout the rest of their lives.
The issue is that the current availability of care for late-effects of transplant does not reflect this reality. We believe there is national variation in the type of, and way in which, services to treat late-effects are offered to patients. We would like all post-transplant patients to have access to the services they need in the manner most appropriate for them, and this ambition forms the basis of our current research project with 2020health.
We will be publishing the full report on this critical issue in the autumn.