Pop up clinics providing life-saving healthcare to the homeless during Covid-19 | News

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Pop up clinics providing life-saving healthcare to the homeless during Covid-19

An innovative outreach project has been launched by clinicians at the Trust to screen and treat the local homeless community for hepatitis C and liver damage.

Homeless people are historically at a much higher risk of contracting hepatitis C, a blood borne virus that can cause liver damage, as well as being less likely to access essential healthcare.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, homeless people across Surrey have been housed, giving clinicians much needed access to this group.

Royal Surrey doctors and nurses have taken advantage of the opportunity by working with the Hepatitis C Trust to set up this potentially life-saving service.

So far the team has screened over 100 patients for hepatitis C and liver damage, treating those who need it.

Romanie Westwood, Clinical Nurse Specialist for the Trust has been instrumental in providing this service and said:

"Hepatitis C can cause many serious health problems and although the prevalence of this disease in the general Surrey population is relatively low, the risk of hepatitis C to the homeless population can be up 20 times higher.

"The team has worked closely with the Hepatitis C Trust to provide essential care to this historically under-cared for population.

"The project has been hugely rewarding in a time where everything feels quite bleak."

Rachel Halford, Chief Executive Officer of the Hepatitis C Trust said:

"In what has been the most extraordinary and difficult of times for many, it has been fantastic to turn restriction into something positive.

"By working alongside the Royal Surrey pop up clinics, our Peer Support Workers have been able to reach and support some of the most marginalised and hardest to engage people within our society.

"This has been a unique window of opportunity where we have been able to provide education and awareness about hepatitis C to stop transmission and support those who have been diagnosed to access the short course of treatment needed to cure hepatitis C."

These vital pop up clinics are based throughout the Guildford and Woking areas and will continue for the foreseeable future.

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