Health Hubs for Farmers

Free and accessible health checks for farmers

Farmers often lead isolated lives, and their work can be all-encompassing, so they do not often seek help for health issues.

To reach more farmers and ensure they are getting any health support they need, NHS Somerset worked with local charities and businesses to set up health hubs at some of the county’s livestock markets.

About the service

The health hubs are run on a regular basis from Sedgemoor Auction Centre, Frome Livestock Market and Exmoor Farmers Livestock Auction. The aim is to make healthcare more accessible for farmers, who often live in remote locations and lead busy lives.

Situating the hubs at the markets on a regular basis, with no appointment necessary means farmers do not have to go out of their way to access healthcare.

NHS nursing staff, recruited for their farming backgrounds, run the hubs and support is available from the Farming Community Network.

Farmers receive general health checks and can also get advice from NHS professionals about lifestyle, as well as any concerns about their emotional wellbeing and mental health.

Volunteers build relationships with farmers and their families and encourage them to visit the health hub when at the market. During the health check, the nurses look out for signs of physical or mental health issues, offering blood pressure monitoring blood sugar and cholesterol testing, while also offering support for emotional wellbeing concerns.

The Derek Mead Health Room at the Sedgemoor Auction Centre was the first hub of this type, launched in 2018, by the family of the late Derek Mead, a farmer and advocate of farmers’ health support. It was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal in October 2017.

The first hub was so successful that the hubs in Exmoor and Frome followed in March and October 2021 respectively.

How we did it

Following an approach from the family of Derek Mead in 2017 it was agreed that Junction 24 would provide the clinic room facility and Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (a predecessor organisation to Somerset NHS Foundation Trust) would provide the staff and equipment.

Staff with a farming background or other farming connections were recruited and the first clinic was held on 14 April 2017.

Each clinic is supported by qualified nurse and a receptionist. Since 2021 when funding was received from the CCG an Emotional Health and Wellbeing Practitioner was recruited for each clinic.

Working together

The farmers’ health hubs are the result of strong collaboration between the NHS, community-based charities and local businesses:

  • NHS Somerset
  • Somerset NHS Foundation Trust
  • Sedgemoor Auction Centre
  • Farming Community Network
  • Derek Mead Health Room Committee
  • Frome Livestock Auctioneers
  • Mole Valley Farmers
  • Frome Health Connectors
  • Exmoor Rural Health Hub
  • Frome Market Health Hub
  • Shearwell Data
  • Avon and Somerset Police
  • NFU Mutual

The NHS nurses at the hubs are able to refer someone to their GP if a particular health issue needs further investigation.

We monitor the number of referrals sent to GPs and the advice given regarding health conditions and lifestyle.

We also gather other useful information, such as the average age of those attending, the ration of males to females and how many people are seen by the nurse and emotional health and wellbeing practitioners. We also undertake feedback audits and compile patient stories. This allows us to build a comprehensive picture of the service and its outcomes.

Measuring Success

The programme has been a great success, and we have managed to provide health checks to a large number of people attending the livestock markets.

So far this year, the three clinics have provided a basic health screen for 410 Farmers or agricultural workers.

Sharing success

We have recently been contacted by the Farming Community Network in Exeter to support them in developing a bid to their local health provider to fund clinics at the Exeter Livestock market.

Our rural health hub at junction 24 also won a 2022 South West Personalised Care Award for Collaborative Working.