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Boots UK Pharmacists Prepare for ‘Iron Overload’

03 December 2015
Feature Healthcare

Genetic Haemochromatosis (GH) is an inherited condition in which the body absorbs too much iron from food. It is under diagnosed across the UK, yet is one of the most common genetic disorders in people of Northern European origin. 

Working with the Haemochromatosis Society, Boots UK pharmacists now have access to training that has been designed in collaboration with the Haemochromatosis Society. Pharmacists and can often be the first healthcare professionals that patients come in to contact with as early symptoms present themselves, so it’s important that they are able to recognise these and signpost these patients to their GP. The training package is aimed at increasing knowledge about the causes, symptoms, risks and management of Genetic Haemochromatosis which is also sometimes referred to as ‘Iron Overload Disorder’. 

The training module will also be made available for non-Boots pharmacists.

People with undiagnosed ‘Iron Overload Disorder’ may come into a pharmacy, with symptoms of tiredness, thinking they need vitamin or iron supplements to help. However, unknown, to them, is that they have a hidden condition and that taking additional iron supplements can worsen the condition. As well as symptoms of tiredness, ‘Iron Overload’ symptoms include joint pain, abdominal pains and skin discolouration and the training can help raise awareness of the possible symptoms in the pharmacy setting.

Philip Tordoff, Clinical Governance Manager at Boots UK comments;

It is fantastic to work with a specialist organisation like the Haemochromatosis Society to create professional training modules that are accessible to our healthcare professionals, who continually seek to develop their capability in order to make a huge difference to people’s lives.   

Laura Parker, 31, who has recently been diagnosed as having the disorder comments;

“I went to the Doctor about six months ago because I had a constant sore knee. They ran some blood tests and I was diagnosed as having Genetic Haemochromatosis.  It was the first known case in my family, and as a result, my immediate relatives started to get tested. Now my brother has also been identified as having the condition even more severely than me and the rest of the family are being checked out. It is really reassuring to know that healthcare professionals in the local pharmacy are aware of the condition and able to discuss the condition with me.”

David Head, Chief Executive at the Haemochromatosis Society comments:

“GH can lead to toxic levels of iron building up in the body, causing all sort of major problems, including organ damage, joint damage, diabetes and fatigue. We met with Boots UK who have been extremely supportive and willing to roll out training to their pharmacists as well as help us make it accessible to other pharmacists across the UK. It’s no exaggeration to say that improving the  levels of knowledge and understanding has the potential to prevent very serious illness or even save lives, after all GH is eminently treatable if diagnosed at an early enough stage”.

The training package is being made available through Boots’ internal systems and copies can also be obtained from the Haemochromatosis Society.

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