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‘Find and Treat’ van helping thousands of vulnerable Londoners gets upgrade for mobile diagnosis

A mobile health clinic operating out of a converted van is providing accessible healthcare to around 10,000 homeless, vulnerable and high-risk people a year.

A mobile health clinic operating out of a converted van is providing accessible healthcare to around 10,000 homeless, vulnerable and high-risk people a year.

The ‘Find and Treat’ van run by University College London Hospitals (UCLH) visits hostels, hotels and other accommodation, bringing healthcare directly to people who might not otherwise receive it. And now it’s receiving an upgrade, to help more people than ever.

Ousina Sarr is an outreach worker for Find and Treat Service who was diagnosed with tuberculosis by the service in 2011, when it began. He fell into homelessness after losing his job but now uses the experience to help others.

“People sleeping rough are very vulnerable to TB,” he said. “I encourage them to be screened on board the van and explain the benefits to them – the service can screen people with X-rays, provide diagnoses on the spot and, most importantly, follow up with people to make sure they get the treatment they need. I can’t thank Find and Treat enough for the service it provides to people who are homeless. If it wasn’t for Find and Treat, I wouldn’t be here today.” 

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The van is being updated with new technology to make sure it can diagnose and refer people who may suffer with a range of infectious or chronic conditions as quickly as possible.

“Day centres can be crowded and poorly ventilated. People sleeping rough often huddle together for warmth which can aid transmission,” said Dr Alistair Story, the Find and Treat clinical lead at UCLH.

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“Respiratory health is poor among the people we see, many hostel residents have histories of sleeping outside in doorways and under bridges, inhaling traffic pollution. It wrecks their immune system which means it is really important to find and treat TB as quickly as possible in this population.”

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