Homeless project scoops major award 

21/11/2012 00:00 

A pioneering project which is offering compassionate care to homeless patients at University College Hospital (UCH) has won one of the most prestigious awards in the NHS.

Huw Edwards, BBC News anchor; Josie Mavrommatis, UCLH care navigator; Alex Bax, London Pathway chief executive and Kim Guest, He

Huw Edwards, BBC News anchor; Josie Mavrommatis, UCLH care navigator; Alex Bax, London Pathway chief executive and Kim Guest, Head of Sales from O2 Health

The London Pathway, piloted at UCH, is giving homeless people access to proper healthcare and saving the NHS hundreds-of thousands-of-pounds in the process.  The Pathway approach has now been adopted by three other hospital Trusts and Pathway has established itself as an independent homeless health charity.

It last night won a Health Service Journal (HSJ) Award in the patient centred care category with judges saying it had ‘demonstrated how to make a real difference’ to an often forgotten group of people.

Homeless people attend A&E six times more frequently than the housed population and stay in hospital three times as long. Homeless patients gave negative feedback about their visits and  London Pathway was established, through UCLH Charity, to put this right.

The project introduced a dedicated homelessness nurse and GP to make sure that homeless patients get all the care they need – including support after they have left the safety of the hospital. The team also includes a ‘care navigator’ – somebody with personal experience of homelessness to provide pastoral care to patients.

The scheme has led to a 30 per cent drop in in-patient bed days for homeless patients, which equates to savings of around £350,000, and early results suggest a possible drop in re-admission rates.

Alex Bax, London Pathway chief executive, said: We were surprised and honoured to win the HSJ Patient Centred Care Award.  It recognises the incredible compassion and commitment our nurses, doctors and Care Navigators bring to homeless patients.    I hope this award will help convince other hospitals and NHS organisations to talk to adopt our model and think about the care they provide to this complex and vulnerable group of patients."

UCH admits about 250 homeless patients every year. Homeless patients cost eight times more than the housed population for unscheduled care, use casualty six times more and are admitted four times as often, staying in hospital twice as long. The challenge of treating homeless patients is that they experience ‘tri-morbidity’ – physical and mental ill health and substance misuse.

The key to the success of London Pathway has been in forging partnerships. Ward rounds by specialists bring together the work of social workers, physiotherapists, drug and alcohol workers, psychiatrists, housing representatives, primary care teams, and discharge sisters; and coordinate care to meet the complex needs of homeless people.


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