New van unveiled for London infectious disease screening 

19/01/2015 00:00 
A new mobile health unit that will help thousands of patients get access to testing for TB, HIV, Hepatitis B and C and other priority public health infections was unveiled by London deputy mayor Victoria Borwick outside Parliament today.

“This mobile health unit is set to make a real difference to Londoners’ health especially in the ongoing campaign to diagnose and treat TB. This unit will provide an invaluable service to our capital and help to tackle this disease," the deputy mayor said.

The Find&Treat Service, operated across London by UCLH, is expanding from a mobile TB diagnosis and treatment service into a mobile health unit capable of testing and vaccinating for a range of infections.

The new van, designed and built by UCLH at a cost of just under £450,000, is equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic and information technologies and includes a private consultation / examination area and disabled access. The old van, a familiar sight on the streets of London, has screened almost 100,000 people and covered over a quarter of a million miles. It will be retained as a back-up service and will continue supporting Public Health England in controlling TB outbreaks nationally.

“We are already reaching 10,000 homeless and vulnerable people every year, screening for TB and supporting people to complete treatment and recover. TB is just one of the serious health problems we see, so we must offer more. The new mobile unit is a one-stop-shop providing on-the-spot results and onward care. We are making the service fit the needs of people, not just a single pathogen,” said Find&Treat’s clinical lead Al Story.

“Improving access to testing, diagnosis, treatment and care are the keys to preventing new infections and controlling TB, Hepatitis B and C and HIV. None of these serious public health infections can be tackled without specific provision to reach out to and care for the most vulnerable populations who are at greatest risk of infection, delayed diagnosis and poor treatment outcomes,” UCLH director of infection Vanya Gant said.

The new Find&Treat van parked outside Parliament today.

“The new van builds on the opportunities provided by Find&Treat to widen the number of diseases/infections which can be identified and treated. It helps the NHS focus on early intervention care rather than crisis care,” said UCLH medical director Jonathan Fielden.

The launch took place on the same day that the Mayor of London appointed award-winning actress Emma Thompson as his TB Ambassador in a bid to raise awareness of the disease which is more prevalent in London than any other capital in the developed world.
The campaign is of personal significance to Ms Thompson whose son Tindy Agaba was diagnosed and treated for TB by UCLH doctors. Tindy joined Deputy Mayor Victoria Borwick and UCLH staff to launch the van at Portcullis House in Westminster today.

Meanwhile, in the afternoon, PHE announced an £11.5m investment to drastically reduce the number of TB cases in England over the next five years. 

Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director for PHE in London, said: “The dedicated work of the Find&Treat service is one of the most vital agencies involved in preventing, controlling and treating TB in London. We have already begun to see an encouraging decrease in TB rates however TB clinics in London still manage more cases than those in all other western European capital cities combined and TB is becoming more concentrated in high risk groups.

“Tackling these groups who are vulnerable to TB as well as other issues is vital, and thus we’re delighted to see the unveiling of a new mobile unit for this tremendous service. By targeting the most vulnerable in our society we can also bring a positive change to health equity in our capital.’’


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