Frome Market Health Hub – A new service for farmers
October 7, 2021
A new service could help save the lives of busy farmers putting off a trip to the doctors.
Frome Market Health Hub will give farmers, their families, and agricultural workers free access to confidential health checks, without the need to book an appointment.
Hundreds of rural workers attend Frome Livestock Market auctions every week and the hub, launched by Somerset NHS Foundation Trust (SFT), based within the market site, will open its clinic on the second Wednesday morning of every month – the first clinic being held on Wednesday, October 13 between 9.00am and 1.00pm. The SFT believes the hub will provide an important gateway for the farming community who are often the hardest to reach through traditional health service channels, and the hope is that farmers will make use of the drop-in clinic which is deliberately located at the market in what is the heart of their business and social lives.
NHS Operational Manager for the Health Hubs, Jane Fitzgerald, said: “We recognise farmers and farm workers often put the health and welfare of their livestock above that of their own wellbeing and will often put off seeking help, when it could help to save their life. “This is a great opportunity for those living and working in rural areas to access free health checks in a place and time which is convenient to them.”
Frome Market Health Hub will also be the base for additional, independently run clinics being scheduled for specialist problems on a rolling programme. Separately funded Foot Clinics will be held twice monthly, thanks to a grant from Somerset Community Foundation, again free of charge for farmers and with no need for prior appointments.
Health Hub clinics will rely on volunteers from farming and community-based charities like Farming Community Networks (FCN) and the Mendip Health Connectors, to give guidance on any long-term support farmers may need, as well as to spread the news amongst the South West’s agricultural community.
Service lead for Mendip Health Connections, Jenny Hartnoll, said: “It will be a pleasure to get to know farmers at the market and for the Health Connectors to become familiar faces there. “We know how important it is for farmers to have access to health care and advice that’s right there, without needing an appointment. We are delighted to play a part in telling them all about the Health Hub, and the services available to them.”
FCN’s Suzie Wilkinson, who has been involved in a similar health project at Sedgemoor market, added: “We know from our own experience that farmers really appreciate this excellent service which is free and available regularly. Farmers were grateful the nurses really understood their way of life, with all its daily stresses, and didn’t turn up their noses at dirty wellies.”
Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, Annie Maw, said the Frome project was only made possible thanks to businesses and organisations like Mole Valley Farmers and Frome Livestock Auctioneers (FLA). She said: “From Mole Valley Farmers, who have given marketing and creative professionalism, to the treatment rooms made available by Frome Livestock Auctioneers; together with all the help and advice given voluntarily by those who feel passionately that we need to do more to help our farmers. “Being able to support our farming and rural community in this way is a first-class example of a public and voluntary sector collaboration – testament to the hard work and team effort of everyone involved. “Livestock markets are an integral part of the farming community. Not only are they a place of business but a place for farming families to catch up with friends and family, so siting a health clinic at these locations makes absolute sense.”
Mole Valley Farmers Head of Organisational Safety and Wellbeing, Lorna Filby, said: “Farmers’ physical and emotional health and wellbeing are often put to one side as the important task of managing the farm takes over. “Farming can be a very isolating and lonely occupation, with many farm workers spending long hours alone, working in remote locations and leaving them with very little time to access healthcare. “In the farming community emotional health is often overlooked yet it is one of the biggest threats the industry faces. With additional challenges from the Coronavirus pandemic these are testing times for the agricultural sector.”
Frome Market Health Hub will be open on the second Wednesday of each month in conjunction with the livestock market’s key sale dates:
· October 13
· November 10
· December 8
· January 12
· February 9
· March 9
For dates of Wednesday foot clinics at the market, please see the FLA Market Report which will have regular updates.
Business organisations supporting FMHH are:
Frome Livestock Auctioneers Ltd
Mole Valley Farmers Ltd
Old Mill Accountants
Cooper & Tanner
Symonds & Sampson Auctioneers