Posted on Tuesday 17 March 2015
More than 4,500 people in Lambeth and Southwark have beaten Tuberculosis since the boroughs’ TB service, now run by Guy’s and St Thomas’, was launched in 1994.
The St Thomas' Hospital-based team is urging anyone with symptoms to get tested as World TB Day approaches on Tuesday 24 March.
Almost 3,000 people were diagnosed with TB in London in 2013 – 38% of the 7,892 TB cases in the UK.
TB is a bacterial infection spread by inhaling tiny drops of sneezes or coughs of an infected person.
Clive Boyton, 53, a market trader from Bermondsey, was unexpectedly diagnosed with TB in the summer of 2012.
Clive says: “I had quite an exaggerated sore throat for a while and eventually my GP referred me for an X-ray. While I was waiting for the appointment my throat got progressively worse so I went to A&E at St Thomas’. The doctor took a blood sample and diagnosed me with TB. I was so shocked.
“No one knows exactly how I got it but in the 90s I did lots of travelling around south Asia. The doctor said I probably got it there and it could have been dormant in my system all that time.
“I was on four types of antibiotics which made me feel quite nauseous.
“About 30 friends and family had to be tested for TB including my son and mother-in-law who both became carriers. There is a stigma attached to Tuberculosis, which I noticed in my own case, and sometimes I felt unpopular. But I do feel lucky – lucky to be alive.”
Guy's and St Thomas' community team runs TB clinics at St Thomas' Hospital, King's College Hospital and University Hospital Lewisham. Staff also visit patients at home or in other locations that are more convenient to them.
To raise awareness of TB, the team runs events in venues across Lambeth and Southwark including community centres, GP surgeries and day centres.
Margaret Ogedengbe, nurse manager and TB service lead, says: “TB can affect anyone but it’s often vulnerable people with social problems living in poor housing conditions who are at risk.
“We are also beginning to see younger people who are out enjoying life but not necessarily looking after their health. We work closely with hospital and community staff to give patients the support they need.
“Our nurses and advocate workers encourage patients to stick to their medication and attend appointments. They also give advice on a range of issues including housing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”