Frome Market to host new health hub backed by Mole Valley Farmers

A new Mole Valley Farmers' backed service could help save the lives of busy farmers putting off a trip to the doctors.   

The 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. 

Organisers hope it will help rural communities access health services and combat isolation, as well as offering general health and lifestyle advice.  

Hundreds of rural workers attend Frome Livestock Market auctions every week and the Hub, launched by Somerset NHS Foundation (SFT) Trust, based within the market site, will open its clinic on the second Wednesday morning of every month – with the first Hub on October 13 between 9.00am and 1.00pm.  

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, mental health is often overlooked, yet it is one of the biggest threats the industry faces. With the additional challenges from the Coronavirus pandemic, these are testing times for the agricultural sector." 

The trust believes the Hub, in two dedicated treatment rooms, will take healthcare and wellbeing out of the traditional settings of hospitals and GP surgeries, directly to the heart of farmers' working and social lives.  

And, by using NHS volunteers who understand the needs of farming communities, it's hoped the whole experience will be less stressful.  

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."  

The hubs will also 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. 

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. 

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."