As part of our #MyBTH campaign, we are highlighting individuals, teams or services that have an important role within the Trust, but who are not often heard of or understood.
Here we look at the Shane Faulkner, HIV Specialist Associate Practitioner …
Having been seconded to his current position in April 2015 as part of a pilot scheme, Shane has managed this service, with the support and guidance of the Blood Borne Virus (BBV) Team, which oversees the screening of the HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) primarily for all general medical patients admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Shane is part of a bigger team both based at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and a dedicated BBV Team based at Whitegate Health Centre, Sexual Health Services.
Since October 2013 healthcare professionals have come together from the BBV Team and the Acute Medical Unit (AMU) to provide routine HIV screening to all general medical patients admitted into acute services as part of a new initiative to reduce the amount of late diagnoses and increase awareness.
AMU has approximately 1,300 to 1,400 patients admitted a month for which an estimated 800 to 900 are screened for HIV. All positive tests (including equivocal tests) are passed to Shane and the BBV Team via the virology department and those patients are then entered onto a clinical care pathway to ensure the best possible patient care is provided.
Shane and the team are aiming to increase the public and health professionals’ knowledge of HIV and the service and provide vitally important screening to a population within a high prevalence area.
Routine HIV testing is offered to all patients admitted as general medical patients, no matter what age, ethnic background or sexual orientation as a standard care, delivered by acute medical staff. AMU provides a suitable environment for opportunistic and cost effective HIV testing, achieving early diagnosis and preventing missed opportunities; engaging late diagnosed patients into specialist services, improving life expectancy and contributing to the UK’s HIV continuum of care.
The BBV Team is supported by a vast wealth of knowledge via our three experienced consultants and a specialist registrar, led by Dr John Sweeney. Within the BBV Team there is a dedicated Clinical Nurse Specialist, supported by a small but very effective team of Blood Borne Virus Nurses, Assistant Practitioners and Healthcare Assistants.
Shane said: “Between us, the services we provide and the extensive range of medications available, we offer our patients piece of mind in knowing that they are supported both clinically and emotionally in what can be a rollercoaster of physical and emotional hardship for our patients.
“Although the diagnosis is life-changing and incurable, if caught early, it can be very well treated and managed; in the simplest of terms, in some cases with just one pill, ensuring people live a perfectly long and healthy life. The medications used to fight HIV have advanced beyond belief since the horrifying adverts of the 1980s awareness campaigns.
“The unfortunate but very harsh reality is you will never know if you have HIV until you have a test. There are no specific signs or symptoms and can be masked by many ailments that could otherwise go untreated. It is both healthy and advisable that everyone has a sexual health screen at the start of a new sexual relationship to rule out any risk. Remember it is always better to know.
“If you are concerned or would like a test, you can contact Sexual Health Services based at Whitegate Health Centre. Their base is located on the ground floor and provides many services from contraception and sexual health screening to psychosexual therapy.”
With routine HIV screening for all general medical admissions predominantly unheard of, the Trust now sits at the forefront of innovation and service improvement with the implementation and support of providing such vitally important screening to a growing local population within a high prevalence area.
To arrange a test, you can contact the team at Whitegate Health Centre on 01235 957171. For more information of the HIV testing and the services provided at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, you can contact Shane via our switchboard.