Specialist tuberculosis nurses have screened more than 70 homeless and vulnerable people in Canterbury, after several cases were found in the town.
The initiative, one of the first of its kind in Kent, provided on-the-spot, 90-second chest x-rays from a mobile van plus blood testing, education and advice.
“It was decided that this kind of screening was the best way of stopping the potential spread”
It was launched after four positive TB cases were identified among the homeless population of Canterbury.
Nurses from Kent Community Health NHS Trust worked with local charity Catching Lives, which runs a homelessness day centre next to Canterbury East train station. Meanwhile, London’s Find and Treat service provided chest x-rays and Oxford Immunotec carried out blood tests.
TB nurse team lead Marianne Stoneman said: “We’ve had four positive results among homeless people and those using drugs and alcohol in Canterbury.
“After discussion with Public Health England it was decided that this kind of screening was the best way of stopping the potential spread,” said Ms Stoneman, who heads a team of five nurses working across east Kent.
“Having the x-ray on site, with a radiographer, means we can give people their results then and there,” she said. “We also provided T spot blood testing which can tell us if people have latent TB; which is where people have been infected but do not have symptoms.
“Our TB nurses and volunteers from Catching Lives were also out in a minibus visiting homeless hostels and the drugs and alcohol charities, such as Porchlight and Turning Point, and bringing people back to the centre so they could be tested,” she added.