AGRICULTURAL workers, farmers and their families can now get specialist advice from NHS professionals at Exmoor Farmers Livestock Auction, as well as Frome Market and Derek Mead Health Hall in Bridgwater.
The health centers are run by NHS nurses supported by charities and agricultural businesses.
The Exmoor and Frome hubs follow the success of the Derek Mead Health Room, which has operated at the Sedgemoor Auction Center since 2018.
Exmoor Rural Health Hub chairman Richard Webber said: “Farmers are under considerable pressure from a variety of sources and are often unaware of their own physical and mental well-being, to the detriment of their own health.
“The Exmoor Rural Health Center…makes access to health services more accessible.
“We hope this will encourage farmers and those who live and work in this rural area to seek out health interventions earlier, as the center can be visited after a trip to the cattle market, with no appointment necessary.”
Nurses are recruited from agricultural backgrounds and Hub volunteers come from agricultural and community charities.
Jane Fitzgerald, director of the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust responsible for the centres, said: “Many people who work in the farming community often put the health and welfare of their livestock above their own welfare and delay the looking for help.
“Farmers often live and work in isolated communities and we are proud that our teams offer services in places that are easy to reach and where there is no need to make an appointment.
“Sometimes we see farmers looking for reassurance and other times we’ve noticed signs of something that could be more important. In these cases, a referral letter to the patient’s GP has, on occasion, provided early intervention in treatable conditions.
Olivia Winterton, Administrator of the Exmoor Rural Health Hub, said: “Rural communities are among the hardest to reach with mainstream health services.
“The nurses selected to run this service are very responsive to the needs of the farming communities they serve, particularly to recognize signs of physical or mental health issues and provide support before conditions worsen. ”
Frome Market Health Hub holds regular NHS clinics on the second and fourth Wednesday mornings of each month.
Podiatrist Kate Woollett hosts sessions every first and third Wednesday, available free to farmers.
She said: “Podiatrists can detect a number of underlying and potentially undiagnosed or untreated health conditions. During my short time at the FMHH, I identified a number of issues that needed further investigation.