A mobile X-ray service has proved to be a cost-effective way of treating homeless people and drug addicts with tuberculosis (TB), according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.

The ‘find-and-treat’ intervention, which costs between £6,400 and £10,000 a year, is used in various locations where people at high risk of the disease can be found.

All infected individuals are then supported by hospitals teams to get medical treatment.

Peter White, head of modelling and economics at the Health Protection Agency, said: “With TB numbers remaining high in London, the find-and-treat programme was identified as a potential method of tackling the problem in these high risk populations.

“It has proved to be successful in identifying and offering treatment to those unaware they were infected with TB.”

Health Protection Agency TB section head Ibrahim Abubakar said: “While this intervention alone will not reverse the rise of TB in London, it is likely to have an effect on the segment of the population with the greatest evidence of ongoing transmission.

“It is therefore appropriate that any intervention that provides a cost effective means to identify cases promptly and ensure that they complete treatment is an essential component of the tuberculosis control programme.”