Needing the NHS while out at sea

Being a fisherman is a tough job. It's dangerous with long hours and in difficult conditions. They also work unsociable hours making it hard for fishermen to use public services.
being a fisherman is hard

Seven fishermen from Ramsgate told us their experience of trying to juggle the demands of work with the need to see a GP.  

What did they tell us?

fishermen tend to avoid making health appointments as they worry about losing money when they are onshore

access to GPs is a challenge as fishermen are out at sea during opening hours and miss the opportunity to phone and book an appointment

I know I don’t drink enough when I’m out fishing. Just have a few sips of water over the day. I’m usually out for 8-10 hours a day. I’m too busy to stop for a drink, even though I know I should. And it takes ages to get out of my kit so I don’t really go to the toilet either. Kidney problems are really common amongst the guys here because they’re all dehydrated.
— Fisherman
I could do with going to the GP about my elbow as it’s getting worse. But nowadays the GPs want you to call at 8.30 in the morning on the day you want an appointment. I just can’t call at that time. By the time I’m back onshore, all the appointments have been taken.
— Fisherman

What happens now?

You can read everything they told us in our report below.

We'll make sure we share the stories with the right people who organise and offer the NHS services that the fishermen talked about. We're also going to explore the opening hours of GP surgeries in Ramsgate to see if any would be more convenient for the fishermen that we spoke to.

Does your work make it difficult for you to see a GP too?

Tell us about it here 

Downloads

Read all the stories in full

Healthwatch Kent Spotlight on fishermen

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