Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/nclexion/public_html/wp-content/themes/jnews/class/ContentTag.php on line 47
Nurses on Merseyside have been involved in testing homeless people for infectious disease due to the “unique” opportunity afforded by the coronavirus pandemic.
The HIV and hepatitis C testing initiative, which was rapidly introduced during lockdown, means that 67 homeless people in Liverpool are now on treatment plans.
“Fast mobilisation was essential to the success of the initiative and helping us to overcome the historic challenges”
The testing initiative, led by Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, began on 15th June 15 and has now tested 421 people across 25 temporary housing locations.
The liver and blood-borne virus teams at the trust identified the chance to support homeless people, while the council was funding temporary accommodation and their whereabouts were known.
Hepatitis C antiretroviral treatment was provided within 90 minutes to those who tested positive, said the trust.
The initiative’s primary objective was to test for Hepatitis C through the Operational Delivery Network (ODN), which is the method for testing people for the disease in England.
However, it was decided to expand the testing remit by also using Owen Mumford Simplitude ByMe portfolio HIV testing devices, with the results delivered in just 15 minutes.
Jennie Dowd, senior project manager for the initiative, said the team worked fast to identify a solution in lockdown to support this hard-to-reach part of the population in getting treatment.
“Temporary accommodation and hostel management have been very supportive in ensuring that space is available to conduct testing,” she said.
“We were lucky to secure a Cephid machine for hepatitis C testing, and Owen Mumford was also able to deliver the testing kits and provide training in what was a very quick turn-around.”
“Overall, very few people have refused being tested, which has been very encouraging”
Helen Caldwell, liver nurse consultant at Liverpool University Hospitals, said: “This fast mobilisation was essential to the success of the initiative and helping us to overcome the historic challenges of homeless people being unlikely to visit clinics.
“Lockdown has not only meant that we know where they are, but also that they are living in groups so we can test in numbers,” she said.
“We have also been able to expand from Liverpool into Southport, Chester, St Helens and the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral.”
Eimear Railton, lead nurse on the blood borne virus team and part of the programme’s testing team, added: “Overall, very few people have refused being tested, which has been very encouraging.”