AGRICULTURAL workers, farmers and their families can now get specialist advice from NHS professionals at Exmoor Farmers Livestock Auction, as well as Frome Market and Bridgwater's Derek Mead Health Room.

The health hubs are operated by NHS nurses supported by farming charities and businesses.

The Exmoor and Frome hubs follow the success of the Derek Mead Health Room, running at Sedgemoor Auction Centre sine 2018.

Exmoor Rural Health Hub chairman Richard Webber said: “Livestock farmers are under considerable pressure from a range of sources and often ignore their own physical and mental wellbeing, to the detriment of their own health.

"The Exmoor Rural Health Hub...makes access to health services more accessible.

"It will hopefully encourage farmers and those living and working in this rural location to seek earlier health interventions, as the hub can be visited after a trip to the livestock market, with no appointment necessary."

Nursing staff have been recruited from farming backgrounds and hub volunteers come from farming and community-based charities.

Jane Fitzgerald, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust’s manager responsible for the hubs, said: “Many people who work in the farming community often put the health and welfare of their livestock above their own wellbeing and put off seeking help.

“Farmers often live and work in isolated communities and we're proud our teams are taking services to locations that are easy for them to access and where there's no need to make an appointment.

“Sometimes we see farmers looking for reassurance and in other cases we have noticed signs of something that could be more significant. In those cases, a referral letter to the patient’s GP has, on occasion, provided early intervention in treatable illnesses.”

Exmoor Rural Health Hub trustee Olivia Winterton said: “Rural communities are among the hardest to reach by traditional health services.

“The nurses selected to run this service are highly tuned to the needs of the farming communities they serve, particularly in recognising the signs of both physical or mental ill-health issues and giving support before conditions worsen.”

Frome Market Health Hub holds regular NHS clinics on the second and fourth Wednesday mornings each month.

Podiatrist Kate Woollett runs sessions on every first and third Wednesday, available free to farmers.

She said: “Podiatrists can detect a number of underlying and potentially undiagnosed or untreated health issues. During my short time at FMHH I’ve picked up a number of issues requiring further investigation.”