Celebrities join Hackney MP to highlight health issue

Celebrities gathered at the House of Commons to raise awareness about serious – and common - blood diseases.

Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott hosted the event to mark the ten year anniversary of the NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme.

Guests included comedian Lenny Henry, JB from the pop band JLS, and chairman of the Equality and Human rights Commission, Trevor Philips – who is a sickle cell carrier.

Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that gives the carrier’s red blood cells a distinctive sickle shape. The condition, which mostly affects people – or their descendents – from tropical and subtropical regions, results in a number of health complications, such as organ damage. Thalassaemia is another blood condition that tends to occur in people with Mediterranean heritage.

JB announced he had undergone screening, and Lenny Henry urged people thinking of starting a family to be tested.

Ms Abbott said: “In the last ten years sickle cell and thalassaemia have successfully come from the margins of the NHS into the mainstream.

“Today, sickle cell is the most common serious inherited condition in England and it is essential that we continue to invest to deliver high quality and accessible screening and care.

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‘The advances we have made are being threatened by this government. The strain being put on our health services by this Tory-led government’s car crash NHS reorganisation is immense.”

But Prime Minister David Cameron has continued to defend NHS reforms, despite some substantial, and public, changes to his policies.

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