Communications NHS England – Equalities Vaccination Deployment Programme -offer this advice for boaters:
As we prepare to celebrate 75 years of the NHS, Dr Nnenda Atata, a GP in Swindon and Vaccination Programme Clinical Quality Improvement Lead offers helpful advice about how you can access the help you need, for a healthier, happier summer. She explains:
“Boat dwellers don’t have the same access to healthcare services as other communities. Working with partners and local authorities, we have introduced outreach initiatives to help people access the NHS services which are available to us all – especially those without a fixed address or permanent mooring location. As an example, over the last 2 years, we held outreach clinics onboard a canal boat, donated by the Canal Ministries. It gave people easier access to COVID-19 vaccinations, alongside other health advice.”
Register with a GP practice
Everyone is entitled to register with a GP practice free of charge, including people who don’t have ID, proof of address or immigration status. You can register as a temporary resident if you expect to live in the area for up to 3 months. If you need help or advice when registering with a GP practice, you can call 0300 311 2233.
Nnenda says: “Your GP practice will support you in managing ongoing and general health issues. In addition to face-to-face appointments, many offer telephone or video appointments.”
Download the NHS app
Available on your phone or tablet, you can use the NHS App to view your GP health record, nominate your preferred pharmacy, order repeat prescriptions, and find local NHS services. Nnenda advises the NHS App can help you to keep up-to date with health advice when between addresses:
“Many GP practices send NHS App notifications to patients with appointment reminders and other messages relating to their care, for example when your COVID vaccine appointments are due.”
Attend NHS health-screening
Each year over 15 million people are invited for different types of screening at specific stages of their lives. Screening can identify health risks and signs of disease you may not be able to see or feel. It can help to prevent some cancers and catch and treat other conditions early. Read more about screening at www.nhs.uk/screening
Catch-up with vaccinations
Some childhood vaccinations are given in school, such as flu, HPV, MenACWY and the 3-in-1 teenage booster (which boosts protection from tetanus, diptheria and polio) and MMR if this has been missed. You will be contacted through the school when these are due. If your children are not in mainstream education, you can contact your local council and ask the education department about your local school age vaccination services or contact your GP practice who will be able to direct you to alternative vaccination services.
“Even as an adult, if you think you may have missed some of your vaccinations, it’s never too late to get up to date” says Nnenda.
Last chance to get your free COVID-19 vaccine before 30 June
Millions of adults and children around the world have had COVID-19 vaccines and they have saved countless lives – protecting us from serious illness and hospitalisation. The NHS has provided them for free, to all adults and children aged 5 and over. After 30 June 2023, vaccinations will only be available for people who are at higher risk from severe COVID-19, and for most people they will usually only be available seasonally.
“If you’ve only had one COVID-19 vaccination, or none at all, be sure to get yours before 30 June. One vaccination really is better than none” adds Nnenda.
If you do not have an NHS number, you can get your vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination walk-in centre or your community pharmacy. They may be able to vaccinate you, arrange an appointment, or advise where you can get your vaccine. If you are registered with a GP, you can book online at www.nhs.uk/COVIDvaccine or call 119.
To find your nearest walk-in centre, visit nhs.uk/vaccine-walk-in.
To find your nearest community pharmacy visit nhs.uk/find-a-pharmacy
Know where to get medical help
Getting help from the right service will ensure you’re seen quicker by a skilled professional who can help to manage your health concerns and get treatment. You can contact:
- a local pharmacy for advice about minor ailments, symptoms or existing prescriptions
- a local GP surgery for advice and treatment of a range of existing and general health issues delivered by a variety of healthcare professionals
- Visit nhs.uk or call 111 if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do.
- an Urgent Treatment Centre for help with cuts, sprains, strains and minor burns
- 999 or a local accident and emergency (A&E) department for serious or life-threatening conditions.