Harvey’s Gang - Putting the patient in the heart of the laboratory


Harvey’s Gang - Putting the patient in the heart of the laboratoryThe Western Trust is delighted to launch the Harvey’s Gang initiative at the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen and Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry/Londonderry.

Harvey's Gang invites children with long term health conditions and needle phobia to become trainee biomedical scientists for the day and tour the pathology laboratory with family members. The tours are specifically tailored to the child’s individual needs and interests. They offer young patients the opportunity to see where their samples are processed and analysed by the Western Trust Blood Sciences Laboratory, and blood products are issued from.

Harvey’s Gang was launched by Chief Biomedical Scientist Malcolm Robinson at Worthing Hospital, West Sussex in November 2014 in memory of eight year old Harvey Buster Baldwin, a young patient who lost his battle with leukaemia in 2014.

Harvey was an inquisitive young patient who always asked what happened to all his blood samples, so he was invited to the pathology laboratory to meet the teams who processed his samples and have his own tour of the laboratory. He was given his own white coat, special trainee Biomedical Scientist ID badge and shown how to process his own blood.

Today Harvey’s Gang is an international award winning charity which aims to increase the involvement and knowledge of patients and their families in the laboratory aspects of their healthcare. Harvey’s Gang aspires to ensure children everywhere can have a similarly positive experience as Harvey did.

The tours are a great opportunity for the Western Trust’s Pathology Department to showcase the vital work of the team of Biomedical Scientists and Healthcare Support Staff. The tours will help children face their fears, answers questions families or children may have, as well as gain an understanding why taking blood is important.

Upon arrival, children are given a white laboratory coat and a trainee scientist badge, as well as a goody bag. On the tour of the laboratory, families and children will meet the dedicated team processing patient samples. There will be an opportunity to learn where the blood samples arrive and how they are registered as well as a look at all the equipment and analysers such as centrifuges and microscopes and a look at where all the blood is stored.

Any child in the community who regularly has blood samples taken or receives blood products can request a Harvey’s Gang Tour by contacting:

Email: caoimhe.quigley@westerntrust.hscni.net   Tel:   028 66382365 (direct dial) or 028 66382000 ext. 252275 or email: naomi.smyth@westerntrust.hscni.net   Tel: 028 71345171 ext. 213828.

Caoimhe Quigley, Biomedical Scientist at the South West Acute Hospital said: “I am delighted to be involved in the launch of Harvey’s Gang on Hopsital site. It is a great initiative that demystifies the process of where blood samples are analysed, helping children and their families better understand the process their bloods go through. It can be quite a stressful and traumatic time for children and their families as they can spend a lot of time waiting for blood results, so opening up the laboratory to them can help them understand what happens in the laboratory and hopefully help understand their conditions a bit more.

Caoimhe continued: “Harvey’s Gang is a great opportunity for the staff within the laboratory to meet patients and allows us all to help make the department and service more patient focused. As laboratory staff, we rarely have direct patient contact, so it is such a pleasure to play our part in improving patient experience through the Harvey’s Gang tours. The tours serve as a great reminder to us as scientists that every bottle of blood we process represents a patient in need of our help.

“Becoming a Harvey’s Gang site also provides an opportunity for laboratory staff to get to know the clinical staff and the tours open up the laboratory to the rest of the hospital by improving links with the wards.

“We are very excited to make a positive difference to children’s experience of hospital visits and hope that we spark their interest in science too.”