Partners urge farmers to continue accessing health services during pandemic

Morecambe Bay Integrated Care Communities (ICCs) are working with local farming groups and auction marts to encourage the farmers and their families to contact their local ICC for advice and guidance on how to manage their physical health, overall wellbeing and social issues during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

Morecambe Bay Integrated Care Communities (ICCs) are working with local farming groups and auction marts to encourage the farmers and their families to contact their local ICC for advice and guidance on how to manage their physical health, overall wellbeing and social issues during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown. Each ICC has links to GP practices across Morecambe Bay and can refer patients to a GP and other services and support groups if a person needs further treatment or more specialised care and support.Doctor taking blood pressure_12249

Prior to the first lockdown in Spring 2020, the ICCs were running monthly face-to-face health checks which were accessed by hundreds of farmers and their families at North West Auctions Ltd in Lancaster, Junction 36 Kendal and Ulverston Auction Mart. Face-to-face sessions will restart once the government has made an announcement that it is safe to do so.

The face-to-face sessions started in January 2019 to give farmers better access to health and support services. The sessions are run by a care coordinator, mental health nurse and a local pharmacist. Prior to the face-to-face sessions being put on hold due to the pandemic, the Lancaster ICC team carried out the following at them between January 2019 and February 2020:

  • 395 atrial fibrillation (pulse) checks
  • 276 blood pressure checks
  • 56 full NHS health checks
  • one full mental health assessment
  • 46 conversations regarding mental health
  • identifying that 28 people had irregular physical health findings. This included 10% of people having either high blood pressure or irregular pulse that had been previously undiagnosed or untreated
  • helping two people to enter the mental health services for more specialised support.

Sarah Baines, Development Lead for Lancaster ICC, said: “Farmers by their own admission do not go regularly to their GP surgery.  We know that poor mental health and suicide rates amongst the farming community is high and so adopting the concept of ICCs, that is, providing place-based care, we went to them. We sometimes need to take this approach with some of our hard to reach communities because of the barriers they experience coming to us. Although I knew we would unearth some physical and mental health issues, I was surprised by the issues which were raised.

“The farmers are extremely grateful to us for taking this service to them and I'm certain that because of detection work we have done we have prevented disease progression and even avoidable fatalities.

“It’s really important to us to get the message out to our farming communities so that they know we are still here for them during the pandemic and that as soon as it is safe to do so we will commence face-to-face sessions again."

Farmers gave the following feedback on the face-to-face sessions:

  •  “I’ve changed my diet to lose weight.” 
  •  “I gave up smoking the next morning, thank you.” 
  • “I’m now monitoring my blood pressure three times a week and my GP is keeping an eye on me.” 
  •  “I went straight to my GP and now I’m on medication and having an ECG next week.” 

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) North West spokesman Carl Hudspith said: “Farmers are busy people and generally stoic about ill health. The COVID-19 pandemic, poor crop yields, flooding and anxiety about changes to the industry as a result of Brexit has meant for many, seeking help for their health worries gets pushed to the bottom of the job list.

"Sadly, this means problems can easily become more serious, simply because they have not sought professional help earlier. The NFU is therefore extremely grateful to the Morecambe Bay Integrated Care Communities (ICCs) for taking health services directly to our farmers. We’ll do all we can as a membership organisation to promote this service.”

Farmers and their families can contact their ICC Care Coordinator, Care Navigator or Wellbeing Link Worker who are attached to each GP surgery in Morecambe Bay on the following details:

Lancaster Medical Practice and Queen Square Surgery

01524 518663

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Bay Medical Practice

01524 518520

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Ashtrees Surgery

01524 591643 (please ask for the ICC Care Coordinator)

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Arnside, Bentham, Lunesdale (KL), Park View, Sedbergh, Stoneleigh

01539 777297

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St. Marys Surgery, Central Lakes Medical Group, Windermere Health Centre, Wraydale House Surgery, Cartmel, Haverthwaite, Nutwood Medical Practice

Julie Hodgson/Liz Jackson on 01539 777222

Dr Johnston & Partners, Dr Murray & Partners, Market St. Medical Practice, Duddon Valley Medical Practice

Bev Sawrey on 01229 484028

Station House Surgery, Captain French Surgery & James Cochrane Practice

01539 777300

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Abbey Practice, Atkinson Health Practice, Bridgegate Medical Centre, Burnett Edgar Medical Centre, Duke Street, Liverpool House Surgery, Norwood Medical Centre, Risedale Surgery, The Family Practice

01229 402578.

The Bay Health and Care Partners Integrated Care Communities (ICCs) are made up of teams of health and care workers, voluntary organisations and wider partners who are working together to improve physical and mental health outcomes, promote wellbeing, reduce health inequalities and focus on wider determinants of health across the population in Morecambe Bay. 

In Morecambe Bay, there are eight ICCs which have been created to help bring together local health and care organisations: Barrow and Millom, Mid Furness, Grange and Lakes, Kendal, East, Carnforth, Bay and Lancaster.

The focus of ICCs is to ensure that people are supported to improve their own health and wellbeing and that when people are ill or need support, they receive the best possible joined-up care.

The ICCs empower people to take an active role in their health and wellbeing and support them to manage their conditions at home. Everyone who is registered at a GP practice in Morecambe Bay belongs to an ICC.




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