A walk-in health clinic is offering people in Bolton health checks to cervical smears as it works to make routine test easier to access while helping the pressures faced by GPs.

Bolton Health Hive offers a number of vital services in the Market Place Shopping Centre without appointment.

Te services are health checks, Covid vaccines, blood tests, pill checks, social prescribing and advice and guidance on improving health, such as stopping smoking, losing weight, and getting active.

It also offers cervical screenings including smear tests which are available Tuesday to Thursday.

All these services are free, and on a walk-in-basis.

Other services, such as cholesterol management therapy, are available by invitation and appointment only.

Dawn Lythgoe, Head of Performance, Programmes and Communication at Bolton GP Federation, told The Bolton News what the Health Hive is for and how vital these services are.

She said: “Bolton Health Hive is run by Bolton GP Federation and initially we came to the Market Place to run the Covid vaccination clinics and that was the reason why we got a presence here really.

“And when we started delivering those Covid vaccines we realised that people found it really convenient to come to a town centre location to a place where they could access what they might struggle to access at their GP practice, at a time that is convenient to them without the need for an appointment.

"We thought it was a great opportunity for us to expand our services and offer more than just Covid vaccines.

“As a federation our primary aim is to support GP practices in Bolton and help reduce demand on them, so it frees up appointments for people who really need the more complex cases.

“We are committed to tackling inequalities in Bolton, there are a lot of people in the borough that still don’t access their GP when they should and there are lots of reasons for that and we have done lots of talking to those communities and we found they need to be able to access somewhere without an appointment.

The Bolton News: Dawn having her blood pressure checkedDawn having her blood pressure checked (Image: NQ)“We expanded, we started offering health checks and that for us was a big thing because that meant people weren’t taking up appointments in GPs but are also finding out about any underlying health conditions that they didn’t know.

“Alongside that we then decided to offer lifestyle advice including BMI checks, or if they were overweight, or if they were smoking or not being active, we could offer them real advice and signpost them to that help out in the community.

“We have had really good feedback, we have 100 per cent satisfaction rate here, everybody walks through the doors happy with the service that they get.

“And we have increased our services even more.

"We also now offer smear tests here too; people can come in talk to the nurse, have a chat, be honest about fears and worries and the nurse has time to talk people through what the procedure involves to help women feel comfortable and relaxed.

“It isn’t the traditional walk-in centre; people can walk in, and they don’t need an appointment, but it is just for specific services.

“Who knows what else will come to the Health Hive.”

Dawn said the Health Hive is valuable to the community.

She said: “The Health Hive is very valuable to residents, the satisfaction rate from patients coming in is 100 per cent and they are sharing that they value that they don’t need an appointment and they don’t have to wait on the phone for an appointment.

The Bolton News: Suzanne Faulkner, Clinic Manager at Bolton Health HiveSuzanne Faulkner, Clinic Manager at Bolton Health Hive (Image: NQ)“Even just having to ring up GPs can be quite stressful and practices are working hard to try to manage pressures, but we just take that stress away here and they can just walk in.

“We make it less stressful and calmer.”

Suzanne Faulkner, clinic manager at the Health Hive, said: “I think the Health Hive is very valuable, we have a lot of patients that come in just out of curiosity and they say it is marvellous, even when they have just popped in for their smear or for their bloods and there are no queues, they are in and out within five minutes sometimes.

“And while they are here, they also choose to have a health check and they go out happy.

“A lot of people are happy that they can get some information from us on where else to go in the community if they can’t be seen for certain things here such as cuts and bruises.”

Shan Guest, Health Hive nurse, said: “We have done quite a lot of health checks since we opened and everyone is always appreciative or just for the advice we give, sometimes they will just stand at the front door and ask a question and we offer advice.

“People are often excited when you tell them they can just walk in for the services on and are pleased that they can just get their blood pressure checked or just general advice without having to have an appointment.”

The Health Hive is open Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm.

A full timetable of what is available at the clinic on each day, along with the locations for the Mobile Health Hive is available here: https://www.boltongpfed.co.uk/healthhive/.

If anyone is unsure and wants to double check before travelling, they can call the Health Hive on 01204 916241.

If people are ill or injured, they should access services in their usual way – via their GP, Pharmacy or A&E if appropriate.

If you have a story or something you would like to highlight in the community, please email me at chloe.wilson@newsquest.co.uk or DM me on X @chloewjourno.