Background Anaemia is widely prevalent in palliative care patients, and is often multifactorial. Effects of anaemia can include fatigue, breathlessness, or even angina. Palliative care patients benefit from treatment of their anaemia, and day case blood transfusions help to avoid inpatient admissions.
Aims Our day case blood transfusion service was set up in 2012. Initial review of this service indicated that offering a blood transfusion within a hospice setting encouraged earlier referral into palliative care services. On this basis we explored the options for increasing our blood transfusion referrals. This allows patients to benefit from the diversity of therapies and services that the hospice can offer at an earlier stage in their illness, and reduces pressure on hospital services.
Method Since July 2015, in conjunction with our local acute NHS trust haematology unit, we have significantly increased our referrals to the blood transfusion service within our hospice. To enable us to do this we installed a satellite blood fridge in the hospice, and now run a thriving day case blood transfusion service.
Results At present, we can accommodate 14 transfusion appointments per week (offering packed red cells and platelet transfusions) and we have seen a significant increase in appointments in this last year.
Conclusion Coupled to the significant increase in referral numbers to our service there has been a noticeable increase in the number of patients referred with haematological diagnoses. Many require multiple recurrent transfusions over many months which allows a natural progression from active treatment into palliative services, within an environment which is well equipped to support them as their illness deteriorates. Our patient feedback shows we are running an excellent service for our patients, in a setting they enjoy.
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