Our work on health and fitness

Times have changed in many ways since then but seafaring is still one of the most hazardous of all occupations. Getting fit and healthy and staying fit and healthy while living and working at sea can be challenging, and the health challenges don’t necessarily end when you leave.

To help you live a long, independent and active life, both in work and in retirement, we are developing the work we do on health and fitness for seafarers. We have a Health Development Manager, whose job it is to look at ways to support the health and fitness needs of seafarers of all ages.

There are a number of services available now and new projects in the pipeline.


Free physiotherapy services

Working at sea is one of the most challenging jobs in the UK and the number of work-related injuries is high. Time spent offshore means it can be difficult getting treatment so the Seafarers Hospital Society is backing free, fast-access physiotherapy treatment for seafarers.

Free physiotherapy for merchant seafarers – Extended to cover officers as well as ratings from 1st September 2015

Since 2011 we have been funding a free physiotherapy service for merchant navy ratings run by Connect Physiotherapy. We have now extended the scheme to include merchant navy officers.

In some parts of the UK the NHS offers self-referral or other rapid access physiotherapy services, but these NHS schemes are still relatively new and are not universally available. Our service is designed to complement the NHS, by targeting those with long-term conditions, as well as acute problems, particularly in areas where rapid access self-referral is not available.

To find out whether rapid access via self-referral is available in your area, simply contact your GP and ask whether they have signed up to the self referral physiotherapy services. If they have, they will be able to tell you how it works and what to do. Please note, you will not be excluded from the SHS scheme if you do have access to this NHS scheme but we would encourage you to try the NHS first.

To access the free funded physiotherapy service call Connect PhysioLine on 0191 247 5000 to speak to a physiotherapist for advice and support. If they think you need hands-on treatment they will arrange for you to see someone locally at no cost to you.

Lines are open Monday to Thursday 8.30am – 8 pm; Friday 8.30am to 4pm; Saturday 9am – 12pm.

arrow Click here to download a leaflet

Free physiotherapy for fishermen – Extended to cover fishermen throughout the UK from 15th September 2015.

For some years the Society has been supporting a number of local and regional schemes providing free physiotherapy for fishermen.

We have now established a national service, run by Connect Physiotherapy, to provide cover for fishermen throughout the UK, while retaining the very effective local Harbourside Physiotherapy service for fishermen in the Newlyn area.

National scheme
All working fishermen throughout the UK are now eligible to benefit from the free funded service run by Connect Physiotherapy. This operates in a similar way to the merchant navy scheme. To access the service call Connect PhysioLine on 0191 247 5000 to speak to a physiotherapist for advice and support. If they think you need hands-on treatment they will arrange for you to see someone locally at no cost to you.

Lines are open Monday to Thursday 8.30am – 8 pm; Friday 8.30am to 4pm; Saturday 9am – 12pm.

arrow Click here to download a leaflet

Newlyn area
The Society has been working with the Harbourside Clinic in Newlyn since 2007, offering physiotherapy to local fishermen. This is a well-established and extremely effective service that will continue to be available, so local fishermen will still be supported by Harbourside – but may use the national scheme run by Connect if they wish.

If you think Harbourside might be able to help you, contact the clinic direct. If they decide that physio is the right treatment for you, and you’re a fisherman working in the Newlyn area, the clinic will treat you and the Seafarers Hospital Society will cover the cost.

To find out more call 01736 366224, go to www.harboursidephysiotherapy.co.uk or visit the Harbourside Clinic, Wesley Place, Newlyn TR18 5AZ.

arrow Click here to download a leaflet

fisherman_brochure_frontFisherman – A health workshop manual for working fishermen

The first ever health manual for working fishermen, published jointly with Men’s Health Forum and funded by the MCFG. This is an easy to follow guide full of top tips and practical advice. Written in the style of the popular Haynes car manual, it uses humour to address serious and potentially embarrassing topics, from drugs and alcohol to sex and impotence. To order hard copies, call us on 020 8858 3696 or email admin@seahospital.org.uk

arrow Click here to download a copy of the manual

Seafarers’ fitness guide

Published in association with The Physical Initiative, this guide aims to help serving seafarers get fit and stay fit through a diet and exercise programme.

arrow Click here to download a copy of the guide

Hospital treatment at the Dreadnought

The Dreadnought is based at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London and offers a range of treatments for those working at sea. It is run by the NHS with support from the Society.

arrow Find out more about the Dreadnought Medical Service

Disability aids

The Society also provides grants for health related items such as disability aids, stair lifts, electrically powered vehicles, riser/recliner chairs and adapted bathrooms.

arrow Find out more about grants to individuals

Respite care

The Society can also sometimes fund respite care. Find out more about respite care

arrow Find out more about respite care

To find out more
To find out more about help available now, call us on 020 8858 3696, email admin@seahospital.org.uk or write to us at 29 King William Walk, Greenwich, London SE10 9HX.

NEW MENTAL HEALTH ADVICE AND WELLBEING SERVICE – extended to fishermen from 13th November 2017.

Since 1st June 2016 the Society has been funding a mental health and wellbeing advice and support service for UK based merchant navy personnel. Following a review of the first year, the service has now been extended to working fishermen.

arrow click here to find out more


The new Women Seafarers’ Health and Welfare Survey is a joint initiative by the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA), and the Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS). The work undertaken grew out of a concern that medical handbooks and literature aimed at seafarers was out dated and failed to provide a gendered perspective on health.

The project aimed to look at the health and welfare needs of women seafarers and how organisations can best make/campaign for improvements to the health information and services available to women seafarers.

arrow Click here to down load a copy of the report.


Better health for older seafarers scheme for Merseyside

This collaborative project involved a health adviser focusing specifically on the health needs of former seafarers throughout the Merseyside area. The project has now come to an end.

arrow Click here to download the final report.
arrow Click here to download the evaluation report.

Health trainer for the fishing community in Bridlington

Sponsored by the Society, NHS Humber had a part-time Health Trainer working directly with fishermen and their families in Bridlington and the surrounding area. This was a free service providing one-to-one advice and support on a range of health issues including smoking cessation, healthy eating and alcohol reduction. The project ended in July 2013.

arrow Click here to download the evaluation report.