Haematological Disorders

Belfast Trust is the regional centre for the treatment of Acute Leukemia and provider of specialist Clinical Haematology Services for adults in Northern Ireland as well as local Haematology Services for the Belfast population.

The services are based at Belfast City Hospital where an extensive range of investigations and treatments are provided for both non-cancerous and cancerous blood conditions. Support and advice for people in the community with haematology disorders is also provided.

The Haematology Unit in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust is located in the Bridgewater Suite (‘C’ Floor) and Ward 10 North of Belfast City Hospital. These units specialise in offering care to people with differing blood disorders. The services consist of a day care assessment unit, a day treatment area and 28 inpatient beds. The Northern Ireland Haemophilia Centre is also based in Belfast City Hospital, on ‘C’ Floor and the Warfarin Clinic is located in the Outpatients Department.

Please note that this section details services provided to adult patients of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. Please follow the link for information on Children’s Cancers.

  • Types

    The Haematology Unit in Belfast City Hospital provides diagnosis and treatment of cancers of the blood and lymph nodes including:

    There are also a range of non cancerous disorders treated within the Haematology Unit.

  • The Haematology Team

    Diagnosing and treating cancerous and non cancerous Haematological conditions requires a team of experts with different skills and training. The team includes professionals who are specialists in different aspects of Haematology care, including diagnosis, treatment and supporting patients to cope with the effects of the illness.

    The Haematology Specialist Team in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust consists of:

    • Consultant Haematologists: Doctors who are experts in Haematological conditions, both cancerous and non-cancerous. They will be involved in the management and treatment of a patient’s condition from diagnosis onwards. Patients will meet their Consultant Haematologist in at an outpatient clinic appointment or if they are an inpatient under the care of Haematology.
    • Nursing staff: Nurses who have specialist skills in the care of Haematological disorders.
    • Consultant Radiologists: Doctors who are experts in carrying out and interpreting x-rays and scans such as Computerised Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans. Radiologists can advise the team about the scans patients should have and review the results of scans.
    • Haematology Clinical Nurse Specialists: There are two Clinical Nurse Specialists working in Haematology Services and their roles include education, support and ongoing assessment of patients. They also provide nurse-led services.
    • Consultant Pathologists: Doctors who are experts at looking at tissue samples taken from patients during procdeures such as lymph node biopsies or bone marrow biopsies. The tissue is examined under a microscope to see if abnormal cells are present. This is important in the diagnosis and ongoing monitoring of a patient’s disease.
    • Biomedical Scientists: Biomedical scientists work in the laboratory and test blood samples, carry out diagnostic investigations and prepare blood for transfusion.
    • Pharmacists: Pharmacists use their clinical expertise together with their practical knowledge to ensure the safe supply and use of medicines by patients.
    • Transplant Coordinator: The role of the transplant co-ordinator is to provide support and resource for staff, patients and their relatives regarding bone marrow transplants.
    • Allied Health Professionals: This includes Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Speech and Language Therapists who are available to support patients before, during and after their treatment.
    • Administration Team: There is an administration team who ensure that patients have been given appointments at appropriate times, referrals have been sent to other departments and that patient notes are kept up to date.
    Multi-disciplinary Meetings

    There are two weekly clinical meetings within Haematology Services where patients are discussed. These meetings are attended by a range of specialists who make up a multidiscplinary team. One meeting discusses patients who are diagnosed with a lymphoma or myeloma. The other meeting discusses patients who are diagnosed with leukaemia and other haematological disorders. These meetings are necessary in order to establish accurate diagnoses and develop the best treatment plan for patients.

    A record of any discussion is sent to the patient’s GP.

  • Referral

    If a patient demonstates symptoms of a Haematological disorder, their GP will refer the patient to a Consultant Haematologist in the Belfast City Hospital. Patients will receive correspondence from the hospital offering an appointment or be directly admitted to 10 North.

    The appointment will take place in the Bridgewater Suite of the Belfast City Hospital. It is likely that the Consultant will conduct an examination and order diagnostic tests. These tests are necessary to gain a clear understanding of the patient’s symptoms.

  • Investigations and diagnosis

    There are many tests and procedures which patients may need to allow their doctor to make a diagnosis. Each patient referred to the Haematology unit will have differing signs, symptoms and health circumstances. Therefore, investigation tests will differ from patient to patient. It may take time for a diagnosis to be established.

    Tests include:

  • Treatment

    The type of treatment patients receive depends upon the type of disorder they are diagnosed with and it’s intensity. Factors such as other health conditions will also be taken into account. The treatment patients receive will be specific to their circumstances and will be agreed between a patient and their Consultant. Please follow the links below for general information on the treatments offered for Haematological disorders:

    Before a patient can be treated, they must provide their consent. This is so patients understand their treatment and the risks involved.

    There are also a range of non cancerous disorders treated within the Haematology Unit.

  • Follow Up

    Patients will be asked to come back up to the hospital for regular review appointments. Check-ups are a good opportunity to discuss any worries or problems patients may have.

    Patients should go to their GP or specialist doctor for advice if they have symptoms between follow-up visits that they cannot explain, or that they are worried about. They can also contact the Haematology helpline.

    Please follow the link for advice and information on living with cancer.

    Support services are also provided by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. Patients can ask their doctor or nurse about these services.

  • Useful links