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Why the Isle of Wight is healthier due to a doctor on a bike

19 June 2015

Dr Ryan Buchanan has been recognised by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society for his work to help diagnose people Hepatitis C, winning an award.

Ryan who conducts his research with funding and support from NIHR CLAHRC Wessex has been working with hard to reach groups of people on the Isle of Wight who may have been exposed to the Hepatitis C virus by syringe use. Many people who are regular drug-users lead chaotic lives and are less likely to have a long term GP, or access health services regularly. They are precisely the vulnerable groups who can suffer liver damage from contracting Hepatitis C.

Dr Buchanan's approach has been to use pharmacies on the Island to help people get tested for the virus and to meet with patients who test positive to get them the treatment they need. He's based at a specialist unit in Southampton, but on the island he's on two wheels, preferring to cycle around the island to meet patients.

So far he's managed to find the 'hidden' population of people with Hepatitis C and to help many into treatment. By proactively going to find patients and take the care to them, rather than expecting them to go to the mainland for testing he's managed to identify those most at risk from life changing liver damage.

The project will expand further over the next six months to a year to trial a new and more effective anti-viral therapy, which has just been approved for use in severe cases.

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