£88k ‘Better Health Bus’ launched in Hertfordshire to support most disadvantaged communities

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“Many of these residents experience preventable illness and disease”

A ‘Better Health Bus’ will tour around Hertfordshire offering NHS health checks to the county’s black and ethnic minority communities, traveller sites and housing estates.

Hertfordshire County Council’s public health team has secured £88,680 funding plus VAT for the vehicle using Covid funding from central government.

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The Better Health Bus (BHB) has been designed with two consultation rooms onboard and skilled staff who will provide free health and wellbeing services.

A health and wellbeing bus, that was used by NHS staff nearbyA health and wellbeing bus, that was used by NHS staff nearby
A health and wellbeing bus, that was used by NHS staff nearby

The county is reported to have over 108,000 smokers and offering healthy lifestyle advice is one of the aims of the project.

Regarding the design of the bus, the council stated: “The Better Health Bus unit is built under 3.5t and is the standard specification from Peugeot. The vehicle is diesel and Euro 6 compliant.

“Within the rear cabin, are two clinic bespoke consultation rooms to include a desk, chairs, height sticks, scales, leaflet holders and clip frame posters. There is storage of A frames and external table and chairs.

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“There are two entrance doors with steps, handrail and viewing window. A small sink with hot and cold taps in consultation room. There are a five-gallon fresh and waste tanks and 12v submersible pump and electric water heater and a medical fridge in consultation room.”

The bus will travel to areas where it can reach the county’s ethnic minorities and traveller sites, according to a report prepared by Jo Meola, senior health improvement manager at the council.

The report states: “The Better Health Bus will be available to everyone in Hertfordshire.

“However, the main aim is to provide an outreach approach to those communities who are most disadvantaged by health inequalities.

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“The Covid vaccinations would be more readily accessible across Hertfordshire rotating on each of the ten districts strategically focussing on areas of deprivation, BAME, Gypsy Traveller sites and housing estates with low uptake.

“This scope targets service delivery frameworks alongside supporting and elevating pressures from Primary and Secondary Care providers, working with HPT and the Acute Trusts to deliver Covid vaccinations.

“The plan is we will work towards having a central team who will prioritise and manage the bookings.

“There are communities across Hertfordshire that still do not access information or support on steps they can take to be healthy, with continued high levels of risky health behaviours, for example, 108,015 of Hertfordshire’s population are current smokers

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“Many of these residents experience preventable illness and disease. This puts their own personal health and wellbeing at risk and places avoidable pressure on our health and social care services.”

Mobile Health Clinics (MHCs) have proved to be a popular mode of healthcare in recent years, and were particularly effective during the pandemic – when Covid-19 roving vans travelled around carrying out vaccinations in areas where uptake was low.

The council’s health improvement service wants to replicate the success of these roving vans with a health bus that will seek to improve the long-term health inequalities in the area.

Plans for the Better Health Bus will be discussed at the council’s public health and community safety panel on tomorrow (9 May).