Date of release: 23 July 2021
A liver nurse specialist at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT) successfully launched a health event in Wolverhampton earlier this week which took services directly to patients in the community.
Alongside a number of partner organisations, Sunny Chahal encouraged homeless people and injecting drug-users, past and present, to look after their health by undergoing quick and simple tests for liver damage and the Hepatitis C virus (a blood-borne virus which primarily affects the liver).
The team conducted liver scans, known as Fibroscans, and finger prick tests with support from University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust who provided a mobile testing ‘bus’ for staff to base themselves. This was based at the Good Shepherd Charity, opposite the Molineux Stadium, on Tuesday, July 20th.
While homeless and vulnerable people are more likely to experience ill health, the aim of this service was to reach out and test people before they experience complications such as liver failure, liver legions or liver cancer.
"Some people fear the hospital environment; here we hope the bus offers an alternative setting where they can feel comfortable and in no way judged,” said Sunny, who has worked for the Trust for over 11 years. “With quick results, we’ve been able to diagnose issues and offer advice on lifestyle changes and, where required, treatment options.”
Sunny started the community outreach service alongside different teams at RWT including liver, tuberculosis, HIV and alcohol and substance misuse, and now works in partnership with ‘Recovery Near You’ (a free service helping anyone concerned about their own drink or drug use), the Hepatitis C Trust Charity and homeless shelters across Wolverhampton to identify and support people at risk of liver damage.
Maria Tan, Advanced Clinical Practitioner for Gastroenterology, supported Sunny at the event. She said: "Liver disease is one of the most prevalent diseases in the UK. While symptoms may not always be obvious, early detection via scans will mean early treatment and this means better outcomes for people. I would encourage everyone to get tested when the opportunity arises.”
Commenting on the bus initiative, one patient said: “It's not always easy to visit the hospital for checks, especially with the cost of transport, so coming out into the community is helpful for people like me. This is a brilliant service.”
A couple who were tested added: “We had no idea about the health of our livers, so it’s good to be told how we’re doing and what we can do to help prevent further damage. The tests were quick and painless.”
The team successfully met with many vulnerable people who may otherwise not have accessed advice or treatment.
The bus is due to make more appearances in the coming months, please look out on our website www.royalwolverhampton.nhs.uk in due course for more information.
Notes to Editor