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Dr Matthew Foxton

Consultant Hepatologist, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

When hepatitis C patients failed to come to Dr Foxton’s clinic, he decided to take his clinic straight to them.

In 2010, Dr Matthew Foxton, from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, was asked to set up a dedicated hepatitis C clinic to support persons experiencing homelessness. He sent out letters and set up appointments, but the patients didn’t come.

In response, Dr Foxton sought inspiration from The Dr Hickey Surgery, a centre that provides primary care and specialised drug and alcohol support to those experiencing homelessness. This was when the penny dropped.

Rather than asking patients to come to him, Dr Foxton would take his service to them. And so, he set up a weekly clinic at The Dr Hickey Surgery. The clinic is now embedded into the surgery’s wider provision and patients are routinely tested for Hepatitis C.

It takes team work to get patients through therapy

“The landscape has changed in terms of treatment, but it’s very much a team effort,” continues Dr Foxton. “Lots of us work together to try and get patients into therapy and through therapy.”

The team work closely with the charity Groundswell, who harness peer support, to engage with individuals on the street. Nurses also join members of the NHS Find and Treat team, on community visits, to see how patients are getting on and to conduct blood tests.

“We’re reducing the barriers to the bare minimum,” says Foxton. The approach is certainly achieving results. The clinics are now full and 90% of those who complete the treatment are cured – a remarkable statistic considering the challenges faced by the patients. 

However, to see this success replicated nationally will require even greater collaboration. “We need to join up all the dots in the networks across England, so people don’t fall through the cracks,” concludes Dr Foxton.

Gilead Sciences Ltd have contributed to and funded this content. UK-HCV-2020-04-0015 Date of prep May 2020

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