A new community nursing service has been launched in Swindon to diagnose tuberculosis rapidly and stop it from spreading.
The tuberculosis (TB) service, run by NHS Swindon and provided by Carfax Health Enterprise in the town centre, aims to detect and diagnose the serious but treatable disease.
The new service will offer TB screening and prevention advice to those at the highest risk of contracting the disease such as new migrants, homeless people and drug users. Nurses at Carfax will be working closely with staff at the Great Western Hospital to ensure patients understand and follow their treatment.
Dr Karthik Paranthaman, NHS Swindon Acting Director of Public Health, said: ‘The new service will offer help to people diagnosed with TB as well as their close family and friends.
‘There is a particular need to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of TB among the general public as early diagnosis is critical in preventing the disease being spread to other people. Some of the common symptoms of TB are a fever with night sweats, a persistent cough and blood in the spit, and weight loss.
‘This is part of our ongoing objective to provide high quality care to people in Swindon by making sure everyone has access to the right services to meet their needs.’
Marilyn Hughes, Managing Director of Carfax Health Enterprise which won the bid to provide the service, said: ‘As a GP-led health centre, we are open seven days a week for 12 hours every day of the year. This puts us in a strong position to offer high-quality support and treatment to people who have TB or are at risk of getting it. It also means we can respond rapidly to GPs and other agencies who may need a prompt response at times.
‘TB infection can only be controlled if people are diagnosed and treated quickly. Treatment includes combinations of antibiotics taken regularly, usually for six to nine months. Our nurses will be on hand to support patients throughout that time, making sure they complete their treatment. The service will also offer screening tests to people who are living with TB patients to help reduce the risk of the disease spreading to others.’
There are several elements to the community service:
· supporting the treatment of TB patients and ensuring that they complete their treatment programme
· screening close contacts of patients with confirmed TB
· screening of those who are in a high risk group for getting TB
· providing information and training to the public and other agencies about TB to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms.