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Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia psychological service

What is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle Cell Disease is a red blood cell chronic condition, which has medical and psychosocial implications across the life span of affected patients and their families.

Patients living in Havering, Barking & Dagenham and Redbridge Boroughs affected with sickle cell ( thalassemia and/ other unusual haemoglobin variant) can access medical care from the: Haemoglobin Disorders Service, Queen’s Hospital (BHRUT) Rom Valley Way, Romford Essex, RM7 0AG, Tel:  0208 970 8301

Psychological Therapy can be helpful in coping with the disorder in combination with the medical treatment. Our Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Psychological Service is integrated and complements the BHRUT medical treatments and nursing care provided for patients.

Sickle Cell disease and Thalassaemia are chronic conditions, which have medical and psychosocial implications across the life span of affected patients and their families.

What we do

Psychological interventions can be helpful in coping with the disorder in combination with medical treatment. It can also be helpful for other psychological and stress related issues including depression, anxiety, self-confidence, trauma related reactions, body-image issues and relationship issues that affect the coping with those disorders.

The areas that we support people with include:

  • Dealing with psychological distress (eg. anxiety, depression)
  • Dealing with worries about current and future life situations
  • Learning resources for coping with the illness and how to put yourself in control of your illness
  • Other adjustment concerns
  • Issues with self-confidence and social interaction
  • Dealing with Body Image concerns
  • Understanding how the behaviour affects overall health and life
  • Learning strategies to alleviate pain
  • Coping with memory and concentration problems
  • Screening for other neuropsychological concerns
  • Dealing with fear of needles or blood transfusions
  • Managing family and relationship problems
  • Making decisions about treatment options

In addition to psychological interventions, we also offer consultation, supervision and training to other Health and Allied Professionals and undertake regular surveys and audits for service’s development.


The service offers Psychological assessments and therapy for all age patients and their families.

Psychological therapies you may be offered include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
  • Trauma therapies including EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy)

These interventions are offered as individual sessions or as part of a group/workshop structure. We also organise psycho-educational groups and workshops on specific themes such as developing compassion and resilience.  

We often have trainees/assistance psychologists on placement who take an active role during interventions.


After you are referred to the SC&T Psychology Service, you will be offered a Psychological Assessment which includes a clinical interview and completing some questionnaires. The Psychologist will listen to your concerns and discuss with you whether a course of psychological sessions is likely to be helpful as well as your goals for therapy. You will then agree on a Therapy Plan. The sessions may be offered to yourself and/or to your family.

Appointments are available both at Queen's and King George Hospital.


For a referral to our Service, please ask your Consultant/Specialist SC&T Nurse at Haemoglobin Disorders Service, Queen’s Hospital,  BHRUT, Tel: 0208 970 8301.

Where the service is based

We have an established morning clinic on Tuesdays at King George Hospital and a clinic on Wednesdays at Queen’s Hospital.

We also offer additional psychology sessions on other days by arrangement.

The service is open to all age patients (and their families) who receive services from BHRUT Haemoglobin Disorder Service.

SC&T psychological service venues:

Queen’s Hospital
Haematology/Oncology Outpatient Department
Rom Valley Way
Essex, RM7 0AG
Tel: 01708 435360

King George Hospital
The Cedar Centre
Barley Lane
Ilford, IG3 8YB
Tel: 0330 400 4333
Opening times:Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm


The Sickle Cell Society

Provides help and support for people affected by sickle cell disorders and their carers.

Tel: 020 8961 7795

UK Thalassaemia Society

Provides help and support for people affected by thalassaemia and their carers.

Tel: 020 8882 0011


What patients have said about the SC&T Psychological Service:

"The service was a great help and met my expectations."

"Excellent service."

"Everything and everyone was very helpful."

"It made me put things into a positive perspective."

"I was helped to make adjustments in the way I viewed lift through informed decisions."

"I would recommend it to anyone."

I am 47 years old and I was born with sickle cell blood disorder. I was having a very difficult time with my health and hospital visit was not fun at all. The Sickle Cell Nurse at Queen’s Hospital asked me if I would like to try the psychology service to help me deal with the difficult times I was going through. I was not sure what it entailed or how the psychologist was going to help me deal with all I was going through, but I thought I have nothing to lose at this point. At the start I was offered twelve sessions and additional three if needed; I felt really supported and it was good to speak to someone who understood I was going through a difficult time. She challenged some of my ‘unhealthy’ thoughts in a very loving manner, by allowing me to see the reality of my circumstances that I was not well and needed to allow my body to take as much time as it needed to recover.

I had a neutral space to explore what I was going through and how it affected my thinking. I became more able to handle the pain and crisis in a healthier way. In hindsight, I can see how making that decision to see the sickle cell psychologist has changed the way I feel about struggles I face daily with my health.

I am very happy with all the support I have received from the psychologist service and would recommend it to anyone who is struggling.

You can see more feedback from our service users by clicking on document links below:

What students/trainees on placement have said about the SC&T Psychological Service:

 I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to work under you for the SC&T psychology service. This placement gave me an insight into the way psychological services are incorporated within healthcare environments, which was very valuable and enlightening. I also want to thank you for your dedication to making the placement what it was, despite the changes in your own team, which I am sure was no easy feat. I wish you the best of luck with your service!” Lara.

Thank you again for being a brilliant clinical supervisor, I've really enjoyed our time together…and I learnt so much from you, so would really welcome the opportunity again!” N.S.

 The successful completion of MSc in Clinical Applications of Psychology and voluntary work experience helped me to get an honorary assistant psychologist post. I worked for the Clinical Health Psychology service and then for the eating Disorders service. My last placement was in the Haemoglobinopathy service based at Queen’s and King George’s Hospital. This provided me an excellent opportunity to widen the scope my experience and knowledge with clients of different age groups, some in their end of life phase and some while admitted in the hospital due to pain crises or other urgent observations and treatments. I had never before worked in an inpatient hospital or end of life care service. It supported me in linking practice to academic learning, research and continuing professional development.

Initially I was anxious about working in a new environment and dealing with clients who received end of life care. Gradually, with the supervisor’s support I felt more confident with my abilities. I was able to shadow my supervisor during initial assessments and also during therapy sessions. We also conducted a mood screening for the service users with the aim of developing the service and created awareness about the availability of the Psychological services for the clients belonging to the Haemoglobinopathy service. My supervisor was extremely supportive and instrumental in helping me get the best out of this placement. Always made sure that I was clear of the job allotted and that timely supervision was given. Working in a multidisciplinary team I had a chance to learn and understand how the system works and the role of each professional together contributes to the best care of the client.

I was required to do data entry, assist in the outpatient adult and paediatric clinic work and do clinical research. Though the contact with the clients was always in the presence of the supervisor, it gave valuable experience of observing how the therapist-patient relationship is and the different stages in the care plans. Learning the difference between community service and inpatient or hospital setting was a crucial aspect.

While doing this placement I was offered an opportunity to work as a bank assistant psychologist for the memory service under the NELFT and would soon be starting with my new job role as an assistant psychologist for the same. I am grateful for such an amazing opportunity and the trust shown. Truly appreciate the guidance and keen interest of my supervisor and other team members in facilitating me build on my knowledge and experience. Raizel Fernandes, assistant psychologist