Seafarers’ charity brings physiotherapy to fishermen

A seafarers’ charity is promoting specialist physio services to cope with the high rate of injuries in the fishing industry.

The Seamen’s Hospital Society (SHS) project is making treatment easy to access in three fishing communities in Northern Ireland, Devon and north-east Scotland.

‘We’re trying out different ways of increasing access to physiotherapy for fishermen,’ says SHS health development manager Sally Hampshire. ‘

As well as funding private services, we’re trying to work with existing providers or services in a more facilitative way, to help fishermen to access them and to help the service respond to the needs of fishermen.’

The society is building on the success of an SHS-funded project set up by physio Claire Stevenson in Newlyn, Cornwall (see Frontline 4 March 2009).

It is working with existing NHS services in Brixham, Devon, and in Peterhead, Scotland. In Kilkeel, Northern Ireland, it is funding a local clinic to provide the service.

Fishing is one of the UK’s most dangerous industries. Back and limb injuries are common, says the society. A recent survey by the Institute of Occupational Medicine found that a third of UK seafarers had suffered back injuries. And being away at sea makes ordinary NHS services hard to access during working hours.

Janet Wright

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