Nurses to run rule over farmers' health at drop-in events

Farmers have been urged to take advantage of free health checks at the start of the year.

Three drop-in health check events are being held around the region by the Yorkshire Rural Support Network, starting today.

Drop-in events organised by the Yorkshire Rural Support Network start today at Ripon Farm Services’ open day at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate where a team of trained nurses will be joined by the Farm Safety Foundation.

Other checks will be held at tomorrow’s Farmstar open day in Marr near Doncaster and at the Yorkshire Agricultural Machinery Show which takes place at York Auction Centre on Wednesday, February 6.

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At each event, the checks will be held between 11am and 1.30pm.

Kate Dale, co-ordinator of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, said the checks include blood pressure and blood sugar monitoring, but cover a wide range of issues.

“We also talk to farmers about diet,” she said. “After a hard morning’s work we all feel we have earned a big lunch but perhaps we do need to think about portion size a little bit more.”

The checks also aim to benefit farmers’ wellbeing, Ms Dale said. “These checks are an opportunity for farmers to chat discreetly about anything that’s troubling them. Many of the nurses have farming connections and understand the farming psyche and the pressures they are facing.”

Mental health and farm safety are entwined, she explained, saying: “If a farmer isn’t on top form and isn’t thinking straight, that’s often when accidents happen. Our focus on wellbeing is about getting people to think a little bit more about how they are operating.”

Past health checks have alerted farmers to immediate diabetes risks and have helped prompt farmers to take dietary action to reduce their weight.

Encouraging farmers to drop in, Ms Dale said: “There’s nothing to lose. The checks are free and are held in a farming environment. It’s a way of being more aware of your own health.”