Pulborough's unique health screening service offers reassurance
Gill Emmett is proud to be the lead sonographer at the Mary How Trust for Cancer Prevention - and she's also the face of the trust on our logo for its Â£30 for 30 years campaign.
In the past 22 years she has helped to give reassurance to thousands of people, as well as providing life-changing data through her ultrasound scans.
The trust, based in Pulborough, aims to make health screening available to everyone from all walks of life and attracts clients from as far away as Scotland, Gill says.
“We help to bridge the gap between what the NHS can realistically provide, and what people would like,” she says. “We’re unique in that everyone is automatically offered a scan as part of their screening. It gives a snapshot of the client’s health on the day, but can be enormously reassuring.
“We see many people who live locally, but also people from all over the country.”
The trust doesn’t charge a fee but instead asks for a donation based on ability to pay. Each screening appointment includes an hour with the screening nurse and half an hour with a sonographer.
“The purpose of the screening is to pick up any conditions which don’t necessarily give symptoms,” says Gill. “If anyone already has symptoms or is under investigation we ask them to complete that before they come to us, so we don’t duplicate or work at cross purposes with any other hospital faculty.”
Gill’s scans focus on the soft tissue organs and look for unusual variations. It can pick up aortic anomalies and signs of a mass or tumour. “We are the trust for cancer prevention, and people get very frightened about the word tumour,” Gill says. “But a tumour is just a bundle of tissue and can often be benign.”
The ultrasound can also pick up signs of gallstones and fibroids which may not need further treatment, but are useful to note for further monitoring.
The scan results are normally given verbally on the day, and a summary is recorded on the Screening Results sheet. With the clients agreement, the full scan report is sent to their GP, along with the other test results.
Gill dismisses criticism about the ‘worried well’ and says that more people are thinking about their long term health and want to stay fit and active well into their later years. “I think that screening for the ‘worried well’ is justified by the number of people who have a story to tell about how different their life may well have been had they not attended the MHT.
“If we are able to pick up something early and help a client to make lifestyle changes or receive early treatment, then credit for that goes to the client for making the move and booking the screening,” she says. “We are just doing our job.
“It’s a holistic approach, bringing together the different sides of the screening process and working with the nurses who can give excellent guidance, advising about diet, smoking cessation support and other lifestyle changes.
“The feedback we’ve had from clients is brilliant, and I suppose the fact that so many of us have been here for so long is because it’s a very happy working environment.”
l This year the Mary How Trust is marking its 30th anniversary, and this newspaper is backing its £30 for 30 Years appeal. It’s aiming to raise £30,000 - the amount it costs to run its lab for a year.
It has already raised an amazing £30,000 for a new ultrasound machine thanks to your support. To make a donation or request a screening, visit www.maryhowtrust.org