New campaign encourages rough sleepers to sign up with GPs

CREDIT: This story was first seen in OnMedica

Janet Davies, the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), has called for urgent action by ministers and the NHS to encourage homeless people to get registered with a GP,  OnMedica reports.

Her call comes as the RCN becomes an official partner of The Big Issue in a three-year deal that includes sole sponsorship of the iconic red tabards worn by vendors.

Ms Davies (pictured left with two vendors and Big Issue founder John Bird) says emergency admissions to A&E occur at least four times more often for somebody who is homeless than the rest of the population so it is vital that homeless people get the basic primary care needed to help stay well and out of hospital.

And she has urged ministers to “pull out all the stops” to prevent people being discharged from mental health hospitals back onto the streets and for investment in specialist mental health care for homeless people.

“Specialist homelessness mental health teams have been subject to major funding cuts and even disappeared entirely while others services struggle to support people who face multiple complex problems.

“Winter is fast approaching and the four Governments of the UK and their NHS must agree a rapid plan to make routine care and treatment more easily available during these harsh months,” Ms Davies said.

“We must make every contact count. With better training on the causes and consequences of homelessness and where support can be found, healthcare professionals can take a broader approach as they tend to immediate needs.”

Speaking in the House of Lords last week, Big Issue founder John Bird called for fundamental change to social housing and the NHS during a debate on intergenerational fairness. The crossbench peer pointed out how flawed decisions made by past governments had led to current day problems.

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He said: “When I decided to apply to become a crossbencher it was because I realised all the work that I was trying to do around social intervention was always passing through the prism of government.

“For instance in the 1990s, I [gave] homeless people the opportunity to stand on their own two feet, earn their own money and morph their way out of poverty. At that very moment, Mr Blair started to put a shedload of money into giving people social security who were on the streets.

“We were trying to turn [them] into workers, while they were turned into beneficiaries. That is one of the reasons why there is such a clogging up in the social housing system even today.”

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