Development of Nurse Counselling in the UK

Professor Elizabeth Anionwu

Image: Professor Elizabeth Anionwu
Creative Commons BY SA


Professor Anionwu


Members of the public, undergraduate or postgraduate healthcare students, nurses, medics.

OER Features:

A bundle of three open educational resource by Professor Anionwu talking about the development of nurse counselling in the UK and how the role emerged to support patients and families with sickle cell disease and thalassaemia back in the 1970’s.

YouTube Video
Transcript of interview in DOC and PDF form

Video transcript doc

Video transcript pdf

OER Description:

Interview led by Professor Simon Dyson with Professor Elizabeth Anionwu.

Professor Anionwu was the first sickle cell and thalassaemia nurse counsellor in Britain in the 1970s. As she was the only person in the role, she developed it as she went along. In contrast today, there are teams of counsellors, specialising in children or adults with the condition.

There was little information available then and today the role continues to develop with counsellors working in homes, and being involved in newborn screening of babies to help with the diagnosis of the condition. The nurse counsellor role often is very much being a go-between between families and hospitals, families and schools and then employers. The role very much is about communicating the condition and raising awareness.

Today the role is more technical with the NHS having introduced a screening plan for all new born babies to be tested for sickle cell disease. Thus, nurse counsellors need to understand aspects of biomedical laboratory data and understand the genetics of the condition in order to advise patients and their families, and even prospective parents.

Professor Anionwu has dedicated her life work to the area of sickle cell and thalassemia, and this 9 minute interview is both enlightening and inspiring.


More details of nurse counsellor roles in the NHS can be found online at: [Accessed 1st July 2012].

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