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'Homeless GP scheme' will deliver healthcare in hostels across Barking, Havering and Redbridge

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:03 17 October 2019

The Salvation Army in Ilford. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

The Salvation Army in Ilford. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

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A new homeless and rough sleeper outreach scheme will see GPs delivering health checks in hostels and on the streets.

Ilford High Road. Picture: Ken MearsIlford High Road. Picture: Ken Mears

NHS Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will be providing healthcare, advice and support in the form of extended health checks and prescribing medication for those who need it.

Following feedback and engagement with people who are homeless, and in conjunction with community organisations such as the Salvation Army and the Welcome Centre in Ilford, the homeless and rough sleeper outreach scheme will increase access to GP services by delivering them in places where people who are homeless congregate.

The service will prescribe medication and raise awareness that you don't need to have an address or proof of identification to get access to care, and if you want to register there will be homeless-friendly practices who can help.

Alongside the outreach services there will be a dedicated phone line, where patients can arrange flexible appointments and gain access to information on other support provided across the area such as housing, drug and alcohol, and rehabilitation services via a local directory.

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The new scheme has been designed with the understanding that many rough sleepers who are most in need won't reach out for help themselves by registering for services.

The announcement was made at the founding assembly of Ilford Citizens at City Gates Church on Thursday, October 10.

Dr Anil Mehta, GP and chairman of NHS Redbridge CCG said: "We know that homeless and vulnerable people face a number of challenges accessing healthcare services, which include registering with a GP practice, accessing mental health services, and accessing services (other than A&E) to treat illnesses or injuries that require urgent medical attention.

"The homeless GP scheme will also train GP practice staff in the area to be more aware of the signs of vulnerability, and enable easier access for GP referral to other services such as dental and mental health.

"This is a great example of the work happening locally to build strong working relationships with community organisations and to get more vulnerable people living on the street and in hostels the help they need to access healthcare and other support services."

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