By Marie Waller, Haematology Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Chair of the EBMT UK NAP
The UK EBMT nurses and allied health professional group has been established for many years. We have an active group within the United Kingdom (UK) and also representation within the main EBMT Nurses Group, with Michelle Kenyon taking up position of president this year, replacing John Murray (past president). We have many UK nurses elected into roles within the EBMT Working Parties including, autoimmune diseases, cellular therapies, research committee and AML.
I am sure we can all agree that 2020 and 2021 has been challenging for all nurses and allied health professionals across with world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within the UK most transplant centres have continued to undertake Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant and CAR-T therapies for patients. Areas across the UK have been affected in different ways, with cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester seeing a larger number of cases. Some centres temporarily stopped or reduced their transplant programme and some nurses were redeployed to COVID-19 areas, including Intensive care Units. The majority of haematology and transplant nurses throughout the UK have continued to provide the care, treatment and vital services our patients require whilst looking at new ways of delivering services, such as long term follow up and remote clinics. Haematology and stem cell transplant is a complex and challenging specialty and supporting our patients both medically, psychologically and practically through a global pandemic has been difficult and at times exhausting. We have had close collaboration with the British Society of Blood and Marrow Transplant (BSBMTCT) who have helped to develop UK guidelines to ensure patient safety. Charity colleagues in the UK including Anthony Nolan, Myeloma UK and Blood cancer UK have helped to support patients with regards to shielding and access to vaccinations for patients and their families.
Despite the challenged we have faced, the 2021 EBMT Annual Meeting which was held virtually in March, had a good representation from the UK with both oral and poster presentations. The UK EBMT nurses group are currently planning our 51st meeting in October 2021, this will be a virtual meeting due to the uncertainty we are still facing with regards to travel and study leave. Topics will include- Caring for the care giver (preventing burnout in health care professionals), Chronic GVHD, VOD, late effects and survivorship. For the first time we have invited those who have presented posters at the main meeting to present at our UK meeting to try and capture a flavour of the main EBMT meeting. There will be representation from the multidisciplinary team including Medical, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy and a therapist.
As chair of the UK EBMT nurses and allied health professional group I am proud of all of our UK haematology and transplant nurses and allied health professionals who have continued to deliver safe, effective and cutting edge care to our patients throughout the global pandemic. The number of haematopoietic stem cell transplants, CAR-T therapies and transplant specific clinical trials have again increased in the UK and we endeavour to continue to support those working within this specialty by sharing knowledge, improving education and facilitating training which will enhance the delivery of evidence-based care to our patients.