Understanding a patient’s sickle cell experience will better prepare pre-reg nurses for the NHS

In follow up to Swetha Kalaimani’s interesting interview with Stephanie George, Vice Chair of Red Cells R Us the nursing academics in the Donor Research team have continued to collaborate with Stephanie.

Rebecca Craig and Charlotte Humphris deliver education and training on the BSc Nursing course at the University of Brighton and have worked with Stephanie to develop the blood transfusion session materials, and a simulation scenario focused on Sickle Cell Crisis, to enable pre-registration nurses to better understand Sickle Cell, and the experience of patients with this condition accessing healthcare services in the NHS.


Stephanie reviewed the teaching materials and provided service-user feedback on how to develop them further. In addition, she shared useful resources that would support students in knowing where to access reliable and up to date information. She also highlighted key discussion points for the Simulation scenario to offer valuable insight into her lived experience.

Stephanie said “It’s great to be part of the conversation that hopefully ensures change”.

Students fed back that prior to these sessions their knowledge of Sickle Cell was very limited, with some admitting that they had never heard of it. Verbal feedback showed that many students felt that they now understand the condition and how to care for a patient in crisis. A key element discussed was how the red blood cells are affected, and why analgesia is so essential to enable full assessment and development of a holistic treatment plan.

There was also an important discussion about the level of anxiety that patients may experience when attending Accident and Emergency when they are experiencing a crisis, and how healthcare workers need to ensure they deliver non-judgemental care. These sessions run in conjunction with a long-term conditions module, so is well situated in the curriculum for students to consider the impact on people’s lives of conditions such as Sickle Cell Anaemia.


  Rebecca said “Delivering these sessions with input from Stephanie made the learning much more meaningful for the students, and enabled the team to give emphasis to some of the real life issues that Stephanie has shared about accessing healthcare services”.





Charlotte said “Introducing students to one of the UK’s fastest growing genetic disorders is really important and we have had some excellent discussions following the sickle cell simulation.  Some of our students have personal experiences of sickle cell and shared their experiences with the group, which enriched the learning experience of their peers.”

We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Stephanie and are grateful for her support in ensuring future nurses are knowledgeable about this condition.