Blood team's work is heralded

WORK by a specialist Suffolk health team to engage with hard-to-reach injecting drug users could now be used across the country.The Suffolk blood-borne virus (BBV) team, which is made up of four community health workers, has developed an innovative programme of activities to bring services to drug users diagnosed with hepatitis C.

WORK by a specialist Suffolk health team to engage with hard-to-reach injecting drug users could now be used across the country.

The Suffolk blood-borne virus (BBV) team, which is made up of four community health workers, has developed an innovative programme of activities to bring services to drug users diagnosed with hepatitis C.

The aim of the programme is to reach more people and help them manage their condition.

The team's work has now been recorded on a national NHS website which highlights case study examples of best practice across the country, encouraging others to follow in their own areas.

Adrian Kirkby, county harm reduction manager for Suffolk Community Healthcare, said that Janet Catt, team leader, had already addressed national conferences about the success of the work and received inquiries from health organisations around the country.

Mr Kirkby said: “Injecting drug users are often hard-to-reach because of their lifestyles, experiences and the discrimination against them.

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“But it is important that they receive vaccination and testing and for those with a BBV, appropriate treatment and advice on how to live with their condition. It helps to protect them and the people around them.

“By establishing a community outreach service and improving referral services, the attendance at specialist appointments for hepatitis C treatment has increased, and more patients are completing treatment.”

The programme includes an awareness campaign targeting health professionals and the public and also reviewed outreach services to improve testing among hard-to-reach groups.

Have you been helped by the BBV team? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.