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Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, UK fatality rates are 100 times higher than that of the general workforce, work-related injuries and high blood pressure readings are common.

Given the unique pressures of being dependant on the weather, and not being able to plan for time off, along with the need to be at sea to earn a living causes problems, when booking appointments as health current systems cannot offer enough flexibility.

Many fishermen, despite ill-health, fail to seek help and continue to work through pain or injury, exacerbating their condition, increasing the risk of poor, long-term health outcomes in later life. Fishermen are also less likely to attend routine screening appointments.

SeaFit is run by the Fishermen’s Mission and the Seafarers Hospital Society. They use cross-agency, collaborative partnerships between the NHS, public health, dental providers, voluntary organisations, and the fishing industry, bringing preventative models of healthcare, treatment and advice to the quayside where the fishermen work. This consists of a range of services including NHS health checks, physiotherapy, dental treatment, mental health support, diet, smoking cessation, drug and alcohol reduction, prostate cancer, diabetes and liver checks.

SeaFit’s aims are to highlight health issues faced by fishermen, and to increase access to services by encouraging health providers to bring services to quaysides to improve the health and wellbeing of fishermen and their families.

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How does Seafit work?

Using existing health networks and working with key local partners such as, Fairwinds and Smile Together, SeaFit provide services to all active, retired and international fishermen and their families in the UK. Several fishermen have told SeaFit that if it were not for the mental health support they’d received they would no longer be here. Undiagnosed oral cancer and extremely high blood pressures have also been identified at quayside clinics.

Time must be spent getting to know the fishermen, not only to understand their wellbeing needs, but also to understand wider issues within the fishing industry. This fishing-related knowledge is vital in starting conversations that began to build relationships.

Seafit through their events have built relationship, trusts and aim to be continually visible, stopping for cups of tea and informal chats that help with engagement. The SeaFit initiative and the Fishermen’s Mission Port Staff are invaluable in connecting fishing communities to health services.

SeaFit welcome many more health and wellbeing partners to extend outreach clinics to quaysides. This increases access to services and helps improve the health and wellbeing of fishermen and their families. Contact Carol Elliott SeaFit Manager: Tel:07486 319621

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