Ifor Williams Trailers Mobile Clinical Unit at Corwen ; Pictured from left are Dr Graham Thomas, Practice Manager Julie Rose and Lois Wynne of IWT. Picture Mandy Jones

A big-hearted trailer firm has come to the rescue of a GP practice that desperately needed a separate clinical area to assess patients with Covid-19 symptoms.

Ifor Williams Trailers worked with the doctors at Corwen Family Practice to design and build a bespoke mobile clinic that’s now parked outside the town’s health centre in Green Lane.

To ensure there is no cross-contamination, the insulated clinic has two different entrances – one for the patient and one for the doctor.

On the doctor’s side there is a clean room where the PPE is stored and an internal door to the clinic where the patient can be assessed safely by the GP wearing protective gear.

The trailer company has also made a special ramp to ensure full and easy access for people with disabilities.

In between consultations, all areas of the mobile clinic are disinfected with a chlorine-based detergent and ventilated for an hour so it’s safe for the next patient.

Ifor Williams Trailers used their popular Business Inabox model as the base for the ground-breaking clinic.

Elsewhere, other versions of the trailer are already being put to a huge variety of uses by companies, including mobile shops, barbershops, workshops, bars along with catering and exhibition units.

According to Ifor Williams Trailers, which has factories in Corwen and Cynwyd, this particular project was closer to home – and closer to their hearts.

Many of the patients at the practice work for the company whose trailers are sold worldwide.

One of the two GPs at the practice, Dr Graham Thomas, said the donation of the mobile clinic was a “hugely generous” gesture by the community-minded company.

Their situation in Corwen was far from unique and he believed the mobile clinic could provide an answer for many other practices that need a separate and safe space where Covid patients can be examined and treated.

Dr Thomas said: “At the moment, it is business as usual but in a more complicated way.

“We’re making every effort to keep people with suspected Covid infections out of the building so we’re not putting our staff at risk, some of whom are shielding themselves for their own health reasons.

“That’s why we contacted Ifor Williams Trailers. We were very keen to have some sort of a unit separate from the main building where it is possible to see people who may well have Covid.

“Even now around half the number of people with the virus are probably completely asymptomatic but still able to pass it on to others, so having an extra unit just means we can keep the main building as safe as possible.”

Practice manager Julie Rose revealed there had already been a great deal of interest in the mobile clinic from other GP practices.

She said: “It’s perfect and I’m really hoping it will take off because it’s brilliant.

“Ifor Williams Trailers have been fabulous in the way that they have responded. “We’ve been to the factory twice and they’ve done everything to our specification. We’ve seen it being built from the chassis up.

“We sent them our logo and they have wrapped the trailer. In fact, they’ve done everything that we’ve asked them to do in a professional manner.

“I think this is fantastic for the community and I’m blown away by it.”

Dr Thomas can already see other uses for the mobile clinic in future.

He added: “This year we’re doing our flu injections as a walk-in or drive-through so this would be a perfect base for doing that.

“I’m also involved with the cardiology service in the community. With that hat on, we’re actually looking at a mobile heart scanning unit to travel around different community hospitals and potentially even to patients’ homes.  This could fit the bill for that as well.”

Ifor Williams Trailers projects coordinator Lois Wynne said: “By working in collaboration with the practice, we have been able to understand the challenges that they are facing and help design a solution that should have a positive impact for both clinical staff and patients alike.

“With our bespoke range of trailers, called the Business Inabox, we are used to working with industry experts and key stakeholders from a variety of different sectors.

“We always listen, understand the problem, and provide a well thought-out solution, with excellence in engineering and design always being at the forefront of our work.

“Working with Dr Thomas, Dr Jennifer Liddell and Julie Rose has been a privilege, and we are very happy that we have been able to help the GP surgery in Corwen and our local community.”

Nicola Barlow, Transformation Cluster Co-Ordinator at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “The trailer is a really great solution to a challenge a lot of GP practices and health centres are facing up and down the country.

“When it comes to assessing patients, it’s really difficult to establish a clinically safe space which meets infection prevention standards, and which also doesn’t significantly disrupt the day-to-day work of the practice.

“The teamwork between the practice, Ifor Williams Trailers and ourselves on this has produced a really innovative and space-saving solution.

“I’m really pleased that there is now a safe solution to providing this much needed assessment area which allows the practice to continue to function as normally as possible.”