Staff from University Hospitals Plymouth (UHP) have been helping to bring health care to the community by providing hepatitis testing outside of the hospital.
On World Hepatitis Day (28 July), the team brought mobile testing into Plymouth City Centre to raise awareness around Hep C and to test those who are at high risk of contracting the virus.
Laura Bates, a Viral Hepatitis Nurse from UHP said: “It is important for us to bring this care to the community as it allows us to reach patients who usually do not engage with the service, and it allows us to treat people in communities that are often hard to reach”.
This is the fourth large scale event that the team have organised, and they hope to do more with focus being on at-risk areas such as recycling centres and homeless centres. The team managed to test more patients than usual during this event, Laura said: “It’s wonderful to see the community pull together, we’ve had amazing success today because people are getting tested and then bringing their friends to get tested too”.
UHP ran the event alongside ‘Peers’ from the Hepatitis C Trust and Oasis Recovery. Laura said: “It is a pleasure to work with peers, I wouldn’t be able to do this without them, they are so passionate and do phenomenal work, and the community really trusts them which means we are able to treat more people”
Testing is performed simply by taking a finger prick blood sample from a patient, this then gets tested for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and Syphilis. Once the results are back the staff then go to the patients and take a veinous sample to check for any evidence of kidney disease and can then treat them in their own homes. If the patient has no fixed abode the team will also go above and beyond to find that patient and treat them to ensure no one misses out on the care they need.
NHS England has stated that they want to achieve micro elimination of Hepatitis C by 2025, and the team is working tirelessly to help achieve this, with Plymouth currently leading the region for treating Hepatitis C. Laura said: “If anyone knows of an area that needs treating, please let us know, we want to help as many communities as possible”.
For more information on symptoms and causes of Hep C visit the NHS website.
If you would like to help the team with their outreach, you can get in touch with them by: emailing Laura Bates Laurabates3@nhs.net or Jayne Roue CQUIN/ODN Programme Manager for Hepatitis C – Jayne.email@example.com and help us #BeFreeOfHepC.