Home

Current projects

Seafarers Hospital Society has been looking after seafarers’ health for more than 200 years, we have been a force for change in seafarer health throughout our history and we continue to run relevant and innovative health projects and programmes. Here are details of some of the current projects.

Defibrillator Project

Seafarer physical health, welfare, and mental illness have been regular challenges within the maritime sector. Cardio Vascular Disease is an important area that requires attention and is one of the largest killers at sea. A stopped heart results in lack of oxygenated blood being circulated to the brain, meaning victims may die unless a defibrillator is used immediately. The occurrence of heart attacks and other similar health-related incidents, due to high blood pressure may not be a surprise given the increasing age of seafarers as essentially, common onshore ‘middle-age’ health problems are being taken to sea. According to the British Heart Foundation, the single most influential factor in improving survival is treatment with a life-saving defibrillation shock from an AED. Conditions for defibrillation are optimal for only a few minutes after the onset of VF and the best way of ensuring prompt defibrillation is having an AED nearby:

Using an AED is easy and can cause no harm; the Resuscitation Council (UK) states – “An AED [defibrillator] can be used safely and effectively without previous training” (RCUK Guidelines, 2010). AEDs are compact, portable, effective, require little maintenance and can be stored for long periods.

The national defibrillator database which was rolled out by the NHS clearly shows that the more people who know about defibrillators and how to use them, undoubtedly increases the number of saved lived. Last year an average of 460 people a day died due to heart and circulatory problems, this equates to 170,000 people a year.

This project will place 20 AED devices in ports and seafarers’ centres, and run a healthy lifestyle campaign to raise awareness of heart disease. The project is funded by the MNWB as is important as it can save lives.

Dental Project

Dental health is just as important as physical and mental health but when seafarers are out at sea it is often not a priority. If they can’t get to see a dentist, or they neglect their teeth it can lead to significant problems later on, that is why the Seafarers Hospital Society has partnered with the Fishermen’s Mission and community dental providers Dentaid and Smile Together, to take dental health services into the fishing community through the SeaFit Programme. We will provide free dental checks and immediate treatment for fishers and their families at a variety of harbourside locations as part of SeaFit health events. Using state of the art mobile dental units, to provide high quality dental care where it’s needed.

Another element of this project is to extend those services to merchant seafarers and visit ports and seafarers’ centres to provide immediate dental care for seafarers from a mobile dental unit. This particular project is funded by the MNWB.

Emergency Dental Grant Scheme

The shortage of NHS dental appointments has impacted people on low incomes hardest, meaning they are less likely to have dental treatment than those on higher incomes which essentially is driving health inequalities higher. Nationally there is limited funding for the provision of NHS dentistry, in Cornwall alone there are at least 48,000 patients waiting for an NHS dental appointment. Many people can sometimes wait for years before their name comes to the top of that list and once it does, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will be seen close to where they live – sometimes the NHS spaces that become available are elsewhere in the county. This is especially difficult for seafarers as they may not be able to make the appointment due to being at sea and many cannot afford the immediate costs of private treatment.

That is why SHS have set up an Emergency Dental Grant Scheme, funded by the MNWB, for working MN seafarers and fishermen who need urgent dental treatment which they cannot access on the NHS.

Seafarer Fast-track Physiotherapy Expansion Project

Working as a seafarer is one of the UK’s most challenging jobs and the number of work-related injuries is high caused by the physical demands and repetitive nature of work as a seafarer. Time spent at sea means it can be difficult to get treatment, so the Seafarers Hospital Society supports free, fast-track physiotherapy for working seafarers.

Following the Covid-19 Pandemic, it has become increasingly difficult for seafarers to access physiotherapy from the NHS due to the length of waiting lists for NHS treatment.

SHS has been funding fast-track physiotherapy sessions for seafarers but the demand for these has increased significantly. This project will enable us to continue to provide these much needed physiotherapy sessions in order to keep seafarers fit to work at sea. In addition to this to expand the size of our existing functioning Network in order to extend the areas in which the service is offered nationally and to help more seafarers access physiotherapy.

As part of this project SHS will videos featuring  preventative exercises to reduce injuries, which seafarers can access online. These will be used online, in conjunction with social media campaigns designed to promote increased musculoskeletal health in seafarers.

Seafit Health Events

The Seafit Programme has successfully conducted 1180 NHS heath checks and more than 500 dental checks for fishermen and their immediate families by taking health services to ports and quaysides. However, there are still many fishermen who are unable to access dental and health services. 

Working with the Dentaid charity and local dentists, we are taking a mobile health and dental tour to fishing ports in 4-5 locations: Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, Scarbourgh/Whitby, Ullapool and Jersey. 

SeaFit regularly receives requests as to how to find and access dental treatment. Nationally there is limited provision of NHS dentistry, as highlighted in the recent Healthwatch Portsmouth report and the British Dental Association recording that 9/10 NHS dental practices are unable to offer appointments to new adult patients, in the most extensive survey of patient access ever, as thousands of NHS dentists have left the service since lockdown.  

A significant barrier when referring into NHS dental services is the length of time it can take to get an appointment. Therefore, immediate and on-going dental needs are not taken care of, leading to worsening oral and mental health, and higher costs. 

At the health events we fund a mobile dental unit, a fully functional dental surgery, that can provide urgent and emergency dental care to people who do not have their own dentist. We aim to spend 1 to 2 days in each port according to the population of those communities, and where we know there will be a high demand at these locations. 

Mobile Dental Unit provision:

  • Dental examinations
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Oral health education
  • Treatment of any immediate dental problems including:
  • Simple tooth extraction
  • Fillings
  • Hand scale and polish
  • Referrals through NHS or private routes if more complex oral surgery is required

In addition to the quayside dental checks and urgent treatment we will provide home education packs with information on maintaining good oral health, tooth brushing, toothbrushes and toothpaste for the family.

We are able to deliver this important service to seafarers thanks to funding and support from Trinity House.

Brighter Smiles (Cornwall)

Working as a seafarer is one of the UK’s most challenging jobs and the number of work-related injuries is high caused by the physical demands and repetitive nature of work as a seafarer. Time spent at sea means it can be difficult to get treatment, so the Seafarers Hospital Society supports free, fast-track physiotherapy for working seafarers.

Following the Covid-19 Pandemic, it has become increasingly difficult for seafarers to access physiotherapy from the NHS due to the length of waiting lists for NHS treatment.

SHS has been funding fast track physiotherapy sessions for seafarers but the demand for these has increased significantly. This project enables us to continue to provide these much needed physiotherapy sessions in order to keep seafarers fit to work at sea. In addition to this we will expand the size of our existing functioning Network in order to extend the areas in which the service is offered nationally and to help more seafarers access physiotherapy.

As part of this project SHS will videos featuring  preventative exercises to reduce injuries, which seafarers can access online. These will be used online, in conjunction with social media campaigns designed to promote increased musculoskeletal health in seafarers.

Brighter Smiles — our work in 2022

4,452

Cornish children engaged in oral health programme

118

Children participating in toothbrushing clubs daily

252

Number of oral health education packs funded

Also in this section

Past projects

Seafarers Hospital Society has run a number of exciting health projects, and innovative pilot programmes. Learn more about some of the past projects.

Read more

News and publications

The Seafarers Hospital Society offers a selection of free publications which we hope will be of interest to you.

Read more

Our history

The Seafarers Hospital Society was founded in 1821 as the Seamen’s Hospital Society, by a group of philanthropists in response to the increasing number of homeless and impoverished seafarers living on the streets of London after the Napoleonic wars. In 2021 the Society celebrates its bicentenary. Read more about our illustrious history with a walk through our interactive timeline.

Read more

Contact us

    I am a merchant seafarerI am a fisherOther

    Mandatory fields*

    I'm interested in:
    (please tick all that apply)

    This site uses cookies to improve your browsing experience, perform analytics and conduct research. To change your preferences, see our Privacy Policy. Otherwise, clicking "Accept" indicates you agree to the use of cookies on your device.