As many people struggle to get a face-to-face appointment with their GP, could some get the care they need instead at the local shopping centre, football stadium or music festival?

Health Secretary Sajid Javid recently announced 40 new medical diagnostic centres, based in community ‘hubs’, that will offer tests for everything from breast cancer to osteoporosis to beat lengthy hospital waiting lists. 

The goal is to provide 2.8 millions more tests in the first one year.

The Lions Barber Collective is a charity which trains barbers to recognise the symptoms of mental ill health, and was set up by Tom Chapman, himself a barber, after a friend committed suicide in 2014

The Lions Barber Collective trains barbers how to recognize signs of mental illness. It was established by Tom Chapman, a barber who lost his friend in suicide in 2014.

Some are already operational; the rest should be up and running by March 2022. 

Falmer Community Stadium is the new home of Brighton and Hove Albion football club and will offer MRI and CT scans to detect suspected cancers. In the meantime, the Glass Works shopping mall in Barnsley (Yorks) will soon offer breast-screening and bone density scans.

There are many other ways healthcare can be provided outside the GP’s office and into the local community.

Festivals: Covid jabs

The NHS’s ‘Grab-a-jab’ campaign saw festival-goers at Reading and Leeds this year offered Covid-19 vaccines in tents.

It was intended for children from ethnic minority backgrounds where vaccine uptake is low.

According to the NHS, the scheme — which was also run at town halls, shops and mosques — vaccinated an extra 700,000 people from those communities. ‘Pop-up’ vaccine centres have since had their focus switched to university campuses and students.

The NHS¿s ¿Grab-a-jab¿ campaign saw festival-goers at Reading and Leeds this year offered Covid-19 vaccines in tents

The NHS’s ‘Grab-a-jab’ campaign saw festival-goers at Reading and Leeds this year offered Covid-19 vaccines in tents

Beauty therapists spot signs of skin cancer

Beauticians are more likely to see our exposed skin than our GPs are — waxes, massages and facials all involve getting up close.

A 2020 Italian study published in the Annals of the Society of Brazilian Dermatologists found that 90% of beauticians had referred clients after finding suspicious skin lesions. And, that 90% of those referrals led directly to a diagnosis of cancer.

Skcin, a skin-care charity, has created a program to teach beauty therapists how to spot suspicious moles and give advice on getting medical help. Treatwell, an online beauty booking platform, has developed a program to train beauticians in order to raise awareness about cervical cancer. This is the most common form of cancer in women under 35.

Barber mental health support

The Lions Barber Collective is an organization that trains barbers how to recognize signs and symptoms of mental ill-health. It was founded by Tom Chapman, a barber who lost his friend in 2014.

The scheme connects men who are in distress to local mental services or, in an emergency, to the ambulance and police services. Tom told Good Health: ‘I’ve had to call emergency services twice in the past and both those people are still alive.

‘One client whose hair I’ve cut for years came in after the first lockdown. He began to cry as soon as I started cutting his hair. He lived by himself and this was the first human contact he’d had.’

Check-ins for health at the gym

Some gyms now offer regular health screenings. Ten Health and Fitness in London offers regular heart-rate monitoring, blood pressure tests and oxygen saturation testing — all essential ways of tracking heart and lung health. For those who have been diagnosed with a serious illness, guidance is available.

‘Often, when people are diagnosed with a condition or are going through treatment, they are told they are OK to exercise,’ says Adam Hewitt, head of clinical for the chain.

‘But most don’t know what to do. If your body has gone through chemotherapy, getting back to exercise can be overwhelming.’

‘We can monitor them and feed back any concerns to the referring GP, cardiologist or oncologist.’

Car park cancer tests

As part of a new trial, mobile testing clinics have been set up in public parking lots to test for Galleri. This test can detect up 50 types of cancer from a 10ml blood sample.

The test detects abnormal DNA that has been absorbed into the bloodstream by tumors.

Currently, 140,000 volunteers aged 50-77 years old who have not been diagnosed with cancer in the last three years are being invited for tests at various units across the country.

In 2023, the trial’s results will be published.

High-street blood pressure EXAMS

The NHS has launched a scheme that allows people to have their blood pressure checked in pharmacies. Every NHS chemist is eligible and it’s estimated 3,700 strokes and 2,500 heart attacks could be prevented over the next five years.

NHS National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis said, ‘Pharmacies are in the heart of communities and so they are ideally placed to provide these convenient checks.’