Ford Transit converted to mobile clinic to assess the effects of long COVID in partnership with NHS

The NHS in Essex has teamed up with Ford and local community health leaders to identify and assess the effects of ‘long COVID’ by offering a mobile clinic specialising in spirometry testing using the Ford Transit Van.

Spirometry is a diagnostic test for lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory diseases. Patients breathe into the device which measures their lung capacity.

The Transit will house the equipment, allowing NHS clinicians and health workers to offer a ‘one-stop-shop-service’ to assist residents in the county that may have mobility issues, language barriers or live in more rural areas of the town.

This comes just months after the pilot launch of the Ford Transit Vax Van, which helped the NHS administer vaccines to minority groups and rural communities. It incentivised hundreds of people to take up first-time vaccinations. With feedback from patients praising the “easy” and “convenient” service.

Dr Sharon Hadley, Clinical Lead at Mid and South Essex Partnership said: “Building on the success of the Essex Vax Van, we are launching a similar outreach model to help reach under-served groups to make sure they get the right care for breathlessness linked to long COVD.

Many people are reporting ongoing breathing difficulties. With a decline in spirometry testing during the pandemic, the diagnosis of conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is estimated to have fallen by half in the past year*, tens of thousands of people across the country could be living with the serious condition without knowing.

In the same way that COVID-19 posed a greater threat to certain communities, we need to get out and find those most at risk and make sure people have the knowledge, care and treatment they need to avoid serious life limiting illness.”

Lisa Brankin, Managing Director at Ford of Britain and Ireland said: “Ford are delighted to support this outreach programme using our new Transit van, which enables the NHS in Essex to directly target the communities that need it most.

Working with the NHS to bolster outreach and uptake of such an important test, has been an incredible way to continue the momentum of the ‘Vax Van’. This spirometry testing van, further anchors Ford as a leading organisation, with a ‘people-first’ approach in everything we do.

I am sure that this Transit will continue to increase access for more people around the county.”

The bespoke vehicle is based on a Ford Transit, the UK’s most popular commercial vehicle for 56 years was crowned #1 best-selling vehicle in 2021 and has now been converted by West Yorkshire-based specialist vehicle builders, Venari Group to support the NHS. As well as spirometry testing equipment, the Ford Transit’s specification also includes medical grade refrigeration with WIFI monitoring capability, vaccine transport coolers, a collapsible chair for administering vaccines as well as an integrated tablet for accessing and updating health and vaccination records.

The Ford and NHS Essex Transit will take to the roads from early February. The programme will continue to run as a pilot, with scope to increase the number of vehicles and explore further outreach models in the future.