Farmers and those working in the farming community will be able to get a health check as part of their weekly trip to the market, thanks to the launch of a new health clinic in Bridgwater.
The Derek Mead Health Room will open at the Sedgemoor Auction Centre on Saturday, 14 April and run every fortnight.
It’s in memory of Somerset dairy farmer and auction centre owner Derek Mead who tragically died in a farming accident last year.
A nurse will be on-hand to carry out essential health checks such as blood pressure monitoring, and blood sugar testing, while also offering support for mental health issues.
No appointments are needed and the clinic is conveniently located next to the auction ring.
Somerset Partnership has been involved in the launch of the clinic and is offering support by providing health professionals.
Jane Fitzgerald, who will be leading the service for Somerset Partnership, said farmers are widely recognised as being difficult to contact in terms of health and wellness.
She added: “We expect that a lot of the farming community will have a concern about their health.
“They might be feeling unwell and not have time to visit the GP, but this way they can get checked out in a way that fits with their day-to-day life.”
A Health Clinic Steering Group has been set up with members from local organisations who have helped support the clinic.
It includes Greenslade Taylor Hunt, Sedgemoor Auction Centre, Mole Valley Farmers, The Weston Lions Club, Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, The Farming Community Network (FCN), Bridgwater Agricultural Society and The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI).
So far around £15,000 has been raised by the steering group to fund the clinic which will pay for a nurse and receptionist for the next couple of years.
The group are hoping to make it a weekly service with the ultimate aim of having it funded by the NHS to evolve it and include a greater range of services.
A health clinic had been in existence at the market some years ago, although lack of funding had caused it to close.
Prior to his death, Derek had been in the process of re-launching the clinic and had approached John Holland and Eric Tones from the Weston Lions to reform a committee.
John said: “Derek was aware of the problems; attempted suicides and friends of his that had experienced a break-down and some that had died and some that weren’t looking after themselves. He recognised the value of having a nurse somewhere on neutral territory.”
Alistair Mead, Derek’s son - says the family are keen to continue what Derek had started.
“My sister Katherine and my dad had visited a few auction health clinics around the country and seen that they were busy and in demand. We want to give farmers better access to health advice as it’s not easy as a farmer, when you’re busy all the time. Farmers support the market, so this is a bit of a return favour,” Alistair explains.
Julie Edwards, head of agricultural marketing and communications for Mole Valley Farmers believes the service is hugely valuable.
Mole Valley Farmers has helped with financial support and design work.
Julie added: “Farmers are stoic, resourceful, self-sufficient and sometimes just a little stubborn, so they always put the farming business and livestock above themselves. This is a great opportunity for them to take five minutes out of their day to see a nurse. And it isn’t restricted to those people living in Somerset – anyone from the farming community, from whichever county can use the service. It could be the best five minutes you spend, in terms of proactively looking after your health.”
To find out more about The Derek Mead Health Clinic, call 01278 662200 ext 1 or email: Katharine.Carver@junction24ltd.co.uk.