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Oxford blood specialist gets national award


A consultant haematologist based at Oxford's Churchill Hospital has won a national award for improving the use of anti-blood clotting drugs in primary care in Oxfordshire.

Dr Susie Shapiro, who works at Oxford University Hospitals' (OUH) Haemophilia and Thrombosis Centre (OHTC), received the patient safety award at the Royal College of Pathologists Excellence Awards on Wednesday 12 June 2019.

She was praised for 'establishing excellent teamwork which she combined with an ambitious personal vision to deliver a service that held patient safety at its heart'.

Hundreds of thousands of patients in the UK take anticoagulants to prevent blood clots. For many years Warfarin has been the main option, although recently direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) have expanded this choice. Prescribed and monitored carefully these drugs are very effective, but serious side-effects such as bleeding or thrombosis can occur, bringing new safety challenges.

Dr Shapiro said: "I am honoured that the work we have undertaken to better support GPs and improve safe prescribing of anticoagulants has been recognised.

"This was a collaborative project with primary care and this award is very much shared by our specialist anticoagulation pharmacists, Victoria Price and Mary Collins, and GPs across Oxfordshire who have worked together to ensure that each patient receives the anticoagulant that is best for that individual."

Susie led a one-year pilot project to work with local GPs, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Oxford Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and commercial partners to improve knowledge about and safe prescribing of anticoagulants in primary care.

The study, Anticoagulation: supporting safe and optimal primary care prescribing in a rapidly changing field, was carried out in 2017. It involved two specialist pharmacists providing an email and telephone advice service and educational sessions in GP practices. The initiative resulted not only in increased confidence from GPs about prescribing DOACs, but also significant improvements in patient-related anticoagulant safety, with an estimated 15 strokes averted.

The project meant that Susie was able to make the case for a new anticoagulant optimisation service for Oxfordshire, which was commissioned for 2019.

"I am delighted that Susie has been recognised in these prestigious and highly competitive awards," said Prof Paresh Vyas, Director of the Oxford Centre for Haematology. "This is a great example of how sharing knowledge with colleagues in primary care can lead to changes in practice and save lives. It would be great to see this rolled out nationally across the NHS.

"As well as being a wonderful individual accolade for Susie, this is also a recognition of the world-class work being done in haematology in Oxford, with colleagues from the University and Oxford University Hospitals, as well as partner organisations, pushing forward our knowledge of blood disorders to deliver better care for patients."

Prof Gary Ford, Chief Executive of Oxford AHSN and Chair of the national AHSN Network atrial fibrillation (AF) steering group, said: "This award is well-deserved recognition for Susie Shapiro and the team at the OUH anticoagulation service. 

"We were pleased to collaborate in delivering this project which has improved GP confidence in managing patients on anticoagulation. It is projected to prevent 15 strokes per year in Oxfordshire through better management of patients with AF, which is a major stroke risk. 

"Learning from this project is being applied to other stroke prevention projects in the Oxford AHSN region, as well as shared nationally through the AHSN Network."