Praise for UCLH homeless health team 

16/05/2013 00:00 

Public health minister Anna Soubry praised UCLH’s ‘brilliant’ homeless health team which is giving homeless people across London access to proper healthcare and saving money for the NHS in the process.

Public health minister, Anna Soubry, speaks to Dr Nigel Hewett, clinical lead of the homeless team at UCLH

Public health minister Anna Soubry (right), speaks to Josie Mavromatis, care navigator of the homeless team at UCLH as a former service user looks on.


The London Pathway charity at University College Hospital is working to transform health outcomes for one of the most vulnerable and deprived groups in society.

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

Ms Soubry visited University College Hospital this week, after announcing £10 million of Department of Health funding for voluntary and community sector providers to work with the NHS to develop post hospital discharge services.

Ms Soubry said: “The work UCLH is doing with homeless people is excellent - ensuring that when someone is ready to leave hospital they have somewhere to go and will be cared for. Too often homeless people are discharged back onto the street without their problems being properly addressed. The £10 million the Government has given to voluntary organisations to help deal with this will mean even more homeless people get the support that they need when they leave hospital.”

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 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.

Ms Soubry’s visit coincided with publication of Pathway’s service specification for medical respite provision for homeless patients – defining a new model of intermediate care for chronically unwell homeless or destitute patients leaving hospital.

To shape the new service model and make the case to the NHS Pathway has worked with partners across the homelessness sector, and with members of the Faculty of Homeless and Inclusion Health.  Evidence suggests that NHS provision of medical respite for defined groups of homeless patients would improve health and social outcomes for homeless patients, and should save money for the health service.

Speaking after the Minister’s visit Dr Nigel Hewett, clinical lead of the homeless team at UCLH and Pathway medical director, said: “It was a pleasure to meet Anna this morning and show her some of the work we do with homeless patients in hospital.

“Her announcement of funding to support new models of intermediate healthcare for homeless patients is hugely welcome. I hope this funding will lead to the provision of the medical respite services described in the report we have published today.  We see too many patients who currently cycle in and out of hospital without ever getting the chance to fully recover their health, and improving a patient’s health is a vital part of breaking the cycle of homelessness.”

For more information about London Pathway visit www.pathway.org.uk

 

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