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New ‘Fishing for Better Health’ Clinic initiative

SEAFIT and Compass House Medical Centres launch new initiative in Brixham to provide health support for fishermen

SEAFIT and Compass House Medical Centres have jointly launched new ‘Fishing for Better Health’ clinic in Brixham that has specifically been created to cater to the challenging schedules and workloads of the fishing community through the form of regular quayside surgeries.

The idea for the clinic came about as a result of a conversation between SeaFit Programme Manager Carol Elliott and Compass House Brixham GP Dr Chris Winiger, who wanted to better understand the health and wellbeing needs of fishermen.

Dr Winiger, who started working at Compass House Brixham around 6 months ago, says “Having worked in several areas in the UK and Australia I have a wide range of experience in many areas of society. Since starting I have noted the Fishermen as a population who can have significant medical issues and can struggle to attend appointments due to the nature of the work. In conjunction with Compass House who already offer priority appointments I have set up the ‘Fishing for Better Health’ Clinic, to try and address these issues. We look forward to seeing any fishermen who would like to attend and working together to improve their access to medical services through our MDT team, including pharmacist/physio and GP.”

The new clinic builds on the existing relationship between SeaFit has already been working with Compass House Medical Centre, who have been working to address the difficulties fishermen often face in making and keeping health appointments when they need to be at sea.

Steph Tedstone, Management Partner, Compass House Medical centres said “We are delighted to expand our offering to our fishing community by piloting this new initiative led by Dr Winiger. Three years ago, we first introduced our bespoke Fisherman’s policy offering priority appointments and prescriptions for Fisherman, helping them to easily access services at our practice. We also worked with the Fisherman’s Mission to create health promotion leaflets for the community and Dr Teesdale completed his training for ENG1 Medicals so that our community could have these completed locally rather than travelling to Plymouth or Exeter. We hope this new accessible clinic on the Brixham Quayside will enhance our existing offering and help further remove some of the obstacles fisherman face when trying to access healthcare and wellbeing services.”

SeaFit Programme Manager Carol Elliott said, “We are excited at the prospect of this new partnership and thrilled that Dr Winiger got in touch with us. One of our aims is for more NHS and health organisations to come forward to offer support at quaysides throughout the UK. We are planning around six Fishing for Better Health events in Brixham with thanks to both the Fishermen’s Mission and the Seafarers Hospital Society.”

Local Fishermen’s Mission staff have been crucial to the success of the SeaFit Programme. Helen Lovell, Mission Area Officer for Devon will be on the quayside on the day and says “I am constantly aware of the difficulties fishermen have in pre-booking and keeping appointments, if they feel unwell – they tend to ‘just get on with it’. Unfortunately, in some cases these ailments get worse, and fishermen have had to come ashore because they haven’t heeded the warning signs. Fishermen are self-employed, so that has huge ramifications on their livelihoods which the Fishermen’s Mission can offer support with. However, alongside the hugely successful SeaFit Physiotherapy Network, these health clinics will give fishermen the opportunity to meet with a doctor on the quayside and get those little health concerns in the back of their mind checked out with professionals.” 

Sandra Welch, CEO of Seafarer Hospital Society says, “We are thrilled that this new clinic will provide easy access to healthcare for the fishing community so that fishermen would not have to choose between their livelihoods and wellbeing. We hope to see a big turnout for the first session on the 26th of May.”

The first event will take place on the 26th May, 9am to 1pm at the Brixham Trawler Agents office close to Brixham Quayside.  All active fishermen are welcome. There is a link or QR code to book an appointment slot, alternatively people can drop-in on the day.

To find out more about the events call Helen Lovell on: 07917 754293 or e-mail: [email protected]

To find out more about the SeaFit Programme call Programme Manager, Carol Elliott on 07486 319621 or email [email protected]