Testing van North of England
[Image: manchester Hep c bus]
On 8 March Sam May sent out an email to all HCV nurses on our database offering to send a testing bus to their area over the week 17-21 May. The aim of this was to create awareness, test members of the public using new Oraquick Oral Swab tests or Dried Blood Spot tests, and build on our relationships with patients, nurses and HCV services. We chose the centre of each town we visited for maximum visibility.
The itinerary was fixed as:
Siobhan Fahey, Manchester, Piccadilly Gardens, 17 May
Mike Rolland, Blackpool, Coral Island, Bank Hey St, 18 May
Opal Greyson, Bedford, Pigeon Square, 18 May
Kerry Baxter, Newcastle, Grey’s Monument loc TBC, 19 May
Dr Aftab Ala, Frimley, Surrey, 19 May
Alison West, Bridlington, King Street, 20 May
Ray Poll, Sheffield, middle of Fargate, 21 May
Therese Moore, London, Portobello Market, 21 May
We decided on a mobile welfare unit Transit van hired from a company called Garic for the testing, and a plain tent with banners to stand alongside for awareness materials . Artwork for van was provided by Logoshack. Banners by Cheapprintsonline.
Manchester 17 May
Nurse Siobhan Fahey Programme Manager, Greater Manchester’s PCT Hepatitis C Strategy
Saskia, Stuart, Shabana, Rana and The Lord Mayor
[Image: Manchester Hep c bus and Mayor]
Siobhan was highly organized and recruited 5 nurses to do the testing. They have a campaign of their own called ‘Back in the Day’ targeting a slightly older generation who may have put themselves at risk, and this was the beginning of a series of road shows of their own. The Lord Mayor and Steve Berry, from Rock Radio were invited.
Everyone went mad for the awareness literature, T-Shirts and information. Shabana was an absolute star, as indeed she was all week!
Blackpool 18 May
Michael Rolland HCV nurse
Sue Toomey HCV nurse
[Image: blackpool hep c bus]
A gloriously sunny day. Mike and Sue were extremely helpful and were very happy with the van and its facilities. They could not have been more pleased that we had come. The same could not be said for some. We pitched our camp in the site the council had given us on a large paved area on the High Street by Coral Island. The council rep was there to meet us. About half an hour later he reappeared apologetically saying we had to move, that there had been a complaint from the Big Fish, Fish and Chip shop that we were outside. Thinking that we were blocking the visibility of their shop we offered to move 5-10 m sideways but were told that we had to move to a totally different location 100 m up the street as we were going to put the customers off their food! And so we experienced our first moment of real prejudice.
We had a visit from Derek Quinn the Communications Manager and a call from the Blackpool Gazette for an interview with Sue.
Newcastle 19 May
[Image: newcastle hep c bus]
Kerry Baxter HCV nurse
Carolyn Miller HCV nurse
Chris Grinwood and Graham Miles, Harm Reduction Team
A great day, really busy. All the nurses were fantastic and there was an enormous amount of interest and testing done. We were rushed off our feet talking to people. Again we were meeting many more patients already diagnosed than I had envisaged.
Bridlington 20 May
Alison West HCV nurse
Kaye HCV nurse
Saskia, Stuart, Shabana, TJ (volunteer)
Special visits from Paul Cooke, Sexual Health Counsellor, Scarborough, and Lorraine Strong from Nomads.
Bridlington seemed quiet and we got to take a breath at last but we still tested a good few, and had a very steady interest. A lot of people had made their way to the van after reading about us in the local paper. Again the nurses found patients that had not showed up for follow up appointments in the street and were grabbing their diaries and booking them in. Again the nurses were very positive about the idea of the van and reaching patients this way.
Sheffield 21 May
[Image: sheffield hep c volunteers]
Ray Poll HCV nurse consultant
Zoe Black HCV nurse
Sid Wiffen HCV nurse
Keiley Rowland HCV nurse
Thea Williams HCV social worker
Oliver Brain, Drug and Alcohol Service
Volunteers: Sue Harrison, Trish Ryding, Richard Douglas, Rana and TJ
Visitors to the van: Prof Michael W McKendrick, Dr Alicia Vedio, Jayne Pearson who is running the half Humber marathon for us.
Ray Poll was fantastically well prepared and organised. It was his idea to bring another van (usually used as a commercial sex worker support van) to maximise the number of people tested. He also tested for Hep B. I swear the man sat down only once at the very end of the day and tested flat out. All the nurses worked so hard and the site was buzzing with interest, volunteers, patients and later in the day doctors and professors! A real event, and to start the day BBC Radio Sheffield had a reporter come to the van to get tested live, and they had me on talking about the patient side of things. That brought a lot of people down to the bus and gave us a real boost as well.
[Image: Sheffield Hep C volunteers]
Stuart and myself were very pleased with the way the week went. I was incredibly impressed by the dedication of the nurses we met and the obvious care and attention they have for their patients and potential patients.
I underestimated how many people already diagnosed would find the van so useful. It was great for them to touch base and meet patients like Stuart and myself and also have a chat with the nurses in a more relaxed setting than a clinic or hospital.
People also seemed very happy to take advantage of the spontaneous nature of coming across the van, some of those who had a test said they would not have gone to their GP and would not have thought of asking. Almost all were surprised at how quick and easy it would be, especially with the Oraquick tests. I think also it was useful to have testing and the van so openly available, it reduced the stigma and shame to have the van in public and patients talking to people in the street about their experience.
Obviously for those few who were positive it has given them an opportunity to get treated and quite possibly save their life.