The Division of Haematology includes a diagnostic pathology service at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) laboratory and a UCT Research laboratory, which both fall under the Department of Pathology. The Division of Clinical Haematology falls under the Department of Medicine. Haematology is thus a complex, diverse, and exciting discipline with multi-disciplinary activities including diagnostic and research laboratories, undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, outpatient clinics, an intensive care unit and a stem cell transplant facility.
The NHLS laboratory is responsible for providing Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) and referring hospitals and clinics with a quality diagnostic laboratory service. An NHLS core laboratory is located at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital (RCWMCH).
The role of Haematology Pathology in the diagnosis and management of patients is essential and extensive. Virtually every patient admitted to hospital or attending a clinic, will have baseline haematology blood tests such as a Full Blood Count (FBC) and often a differential white cell count performed (either as part of their diagnostic workup or during follow-up). Patients with bleeding or thrombosis will have clotting tests performed. Specialised tests include flow cytometry to diagnose haematological malignancies or to screen for primary immune deficiencies, bone marrow biopsies, tests for congenital anaemias, and molecular cytogenetic tests. The NHLS Haematology laboratory maintains stringent quality assurance standards and is accredited with the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) against international standards. Teaching and training of undergraduate medical students and postgraduate specialist doctors in Pathology (registrars) is a further role, as is driving appropriate translational research.
The UCT Haematology Research Laboratory falls under the Department of Pathology at UCT and is located at the Faculty of Health Sciences campus in the Chris Barnard Building. Two senior full time scientists drive research projects in fields of haematology including lymphoproliferative disorders (particularly HIV associated), myeloproliferative disorders and acute myeloid leukaemia. At the postgraduate level, courses are provided at Honours, Masters and PhD levels. Scientists also participate in undergraduate and postgraduate pathology registrar teaching and training.
The Division of Haematology, in the Department of Pathology, is thus a primary teaching and training site for medical technologists, technicians, undergraduate medical and science students at UCT, and for registrars in Haematological Pathology and Clinical Haematology.
The Division of Clinical Haematology, in the Department of Medicine, is located in Groote Schuur Hospital, the primary teaching hospital of the UCT and provides a comprehensive clinical service to patients with blood disorders, including haematological malignancies, benign haematological conditions (including genetic anaemias) and bleeding or clotting disorders. There is an active bone marrow transplant program, and GSH is the national referral and training centre in haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Registrars (specialising postgraduate doctors) from the Department of Medicine rotate through the unit. Subspecialty training in Clinical Haematology is also provided to doctors who have primary specialist registration in Internal Medicine or Haematology Pathology.