It was Saturday 13th April and Preston was bathed in sunlight. Although it was only 8 am, the Foster building of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) was buzzing with activity. Volunteers from several organisations were busy along with students from UCLan’s several health faculty schools including School of Medicine and Dentistry. There was enthusiasm and excitement. Afterall it was the day of the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing’s 22nd annual Health Mela in the town.

The event, as usual, began with the breakfast meeting. The topic of discussion for this year’s meeting was Sustainability and healthy communities’. The chief guests were Christopher Gormley, Chief Sustainability officer, NHS England and Prof Kevin Fenton CBE, President Faculty of Public Health, UK.

The guests were welcomed to the event by Professor StJohn Crean, UCLan Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise. He emphasised the association between the University and National Forum for Health and Wellbeing and stated that the partnership between the two organisations had helped not only the students but also the community it served.

Professor Romesh Gupta OBE and Charman of the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing spoke about the NFHW’s role in empowering the community to take control of their health. He stated the success lay with the cooperation and partnership with several organisations including the NHS, Universities and voluntary organisations.

Chris Gormley, NHS England’s Chief Sustainability Officer, spoke about the efforts NHS staff are making to deliver high quality patient care sustainably. Following address by the chief guests, there was lively discussion by several members from the audience including Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire, who spoke passionately about sustainability and the importance of healthy communities.

At 11 o’clock, the event was opened by Councillor Mr Yakub Patel Mayor of Preston City. He congratulated the NFHW and the University for hosting the event and said “Taking health and wellbeing advice direct into the com munity of Preston is something that I am sure the university must be proud of and the difference that it must be making to improve the lives of our local Preston community members.

This year’s event saw over 1000 visitors attend the event. There were about 70 stalls from various organisations. Children were treated to the ‘Teddy Bear Clinic’ whilst many enjoyed smoothie bike.

There was the regular attraction of free health checks i.e. Health MOT. Students from UCLan’s School of Medicine and Dentistry were at the forefront in the assessments where as members of the Blood Drop team carried out blood tests. This year, they provided not only blood glucose and cholesterol but also lipid measurements.

A total of 170 individuals availed themselves of the health screening facilities offered at the event, which was made possible with the invaluable assistance of student volunteers from Year 1 and Year 2 Medical, AUC (American University of Caribbean) Medicine, Pharmacy, and Biomedical Science programmes. Alongside clinicians, students provided cardiovascular risk analysis and personalised advice to attendees, fostering a positive rapport evident in the smiling faces of students and community members.

Data analysis was conducted on a complete dataset comprising 149 participants, with 21 individuals excluded due to missing data. Among the participants, 61 were aged between 60 and 75, 74 were female, 86 identified as Asian ethnicity, 17 were smokers, and 49 were alcohol consumers.

Weight Management:

BMI measurements identified 59 overweight and 34 obese participants

Blood Pressure:

Blood pressure was measured following NHS UK guidelines. BP screenings revealed 50 hypertensive individuals, with 27 being newly diagnosed and not currently on medication.

Diabetes Mellitus:

Capillary blood glucose measurements identified 18 participants with impaired glucose tolerance (pre-diabetic state) and 4 with diabetes, including 3 newly diagnosed cases. Based on the Diabetes risk score, 39 people were found to be at high risk and 22 at very high for developing diabetes later in life using the risk calculator.

Cholesterol & Cardiovascular disease risk:

Lipid profile was measured and analysed for ischemic heart disease (IHD) risk. Lipid profile analysis highlighted 40 individuals with increased total cholesterol levels and 51 with an elevated 10-year cardiovascular disease risk.

All those with abnormal readings and/or with higher risks were counselled and advised to contact their GP for further management.

In addition, the NHS also kindly provided a fully equipped and staffed mobile ambulance that was carrying out liver function health checks throughout the day.

The event concluded around 3 pm.

NFHW will be hosting another Health Mela on May 11, 2024 between 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at UCLan’s Victoria Mills Burnley campus.